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Valuing Convenience in Public Transport

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The experience of transport systems users, in terms of comfort, reliability, safety and above all convenience, is critical in determining demand for transport services, at least when there is a choice of alternative ways to travel. Convenience is one of the strongest attractions of the private car for passenger transport. For users of public transport, convenience is also clearly important but not always clearly defined and not often measured in designing transport systems or monitoring their operating performance. In many situations, an increase in public transport convenience reduces the unit costs of travel (euros/dollars per hour or cents per minute) and so provides benefits equivalent to an increase in travel speed.

This report focuses on convenience and its importance to the user experience. It reviews operational definitions of convenience, evidence for the willingness of users to pay for convenience and the use of indicators to assess and improve the convenience of public transport, with a view to making it more effective and more competitive.

 

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Valuing convenience in public transport in the Korean context

International Transport Forum

Public transport patronage has been continuously declining in major Korean cities as levels of car ownership rise. Public transport has lost its competitive edge to private cars because people tend to prefer more convenient modes as their income increases. A promising way to reverse this trend is to provide more convenient modes of transport in terms of travel times and amenity. In Korea, we have implemented several policy measures aimed at increasing the attractiveness of public transport by reducing travel times and by providing more seats, etc. This paper analyses the post-policy impacts of these measures and compares the results with those of an ex ante quantitative policy effectiveness analysis. The main policy implication from the empirical analysis is that increasing the convenience level of public transport can be an effective way to increase public transport patronage. The measures to achieve this include reducing public transport travel times by increasing speeds or reducing headways, and by enhancing amenity levels. Following the reform of Seoul’s public transport system, which reduced travel times by introducing exclusive median bus lanes and integrated public transport fares, we have actually seen an increase in the number of public transport users.

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