What you measure is what you get

The Helsinki metropolitan mass transit authority says that rail traffic is more efficient than buses.

They're doing a clever sting here. The comparison is based on passenger kilometres. X passenger kilometres means that the vehicle moves for one kilometer with X passengers on board.

What passenger kilometres specifically does not measure is that people get from their places of departure to their places of destination quickly and comfortably.

It's a no-brainer that if you concentrate more of the public transport to fewer radial lines that make the trips longer, you get more efficient setup for producing passenger kilometres. At the same time, you are worsening the services for people, because people don't want to perform passenger kilometres. People want to get from their home to work, and from work to home, and from home to places of sports, culture, friends, whatever, and preferably as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Reducing direct bus connections, particularly the "lateral" buses that do not go to metropolitan centers but directly between regional cetres, would surely improve the efficiency of passenger kilometres, but will make people suffer.

Here you can see the management principle in action: what you measure is what you get. If you measure passenger kilometres, that's what your organization will deliver to you. Forget the end users, they're just a nuisance.

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