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Rail News: Passenger Rail

APTA conference: A customer-focused approach is ápropos, Bombardier says


Safety, vehicle maintenance and incorporating new technology are important to consider when building passenger cars, but focusing on commuters themselves is key.

That’s the customer-centric message Lecia Stewart, vice president, high speed rail for Bombardier Transportation delivered April 15 at the American Public Transportation Association’s Commuter Rail Conference in Chicago.

"Focus on the consumer as the starting point for equipment design," says Stewart. "We need to get away from the one-size-fits-all approach."

The more a transit agency draws on passenger feedback to improve its design, the more successful it will be, she says. Consumers are more demanding than ever before, and have come to expect comfort, convenience, attractive amenities and value in most things — including public transportation.

To design cars that exceed passenger expectations, marketing and engineering professionals should work together.

Bombardier did just that in 1995 when it built cars for Vancouver’s West Coast Express, resulting in a 250 percent increase in the area’s mass transit use, says Stewart. West Coast Express cars are equipped with computer plug-ins, work tables, arm rests, cappuccino bars and bike racks.

More recently, Bombardier used the approach to design Sky Train vehicles for Vancouver’s Millenium Line.

"By designing it right, it may cost a little more, but will produce 100-fold in revenues," says Stewart. "A customer-centered approach will result in customer loyalty, market share and cost savings."

Angela Claypool

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/16/2003