An Analysis of Public Bus Transit Performance in Indian Cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, policy - fares, economics - finance, organisation - performance, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro


Urban areas, Transit, Ridership, Public transit, Productivity, Production rate, Patronage (Transit ridership), Operations, Motor bus transportation, Metropolitan areas, Mass transit, Maintenance and repair, Maintenance, Local transit, Intercity bus transportation, India, Finance, Fares, Enhancements, Disaggregate analysis, Costs, Conurbations, Cities, Bus usage, Bus travel, Bus transportation, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Affordability


Maintaining and enhancing public transit service in Indian cities is important, to meet rapidly growing mass mobility needs, and curb personal motor vehicle activity and its impacts at low cost. Indian cities rely predominantly on buses for public transport, and are likely to continue to do so for years. However, the public bus transit service is inadequate, and unaffordable for the urban poor. The paper explores the factors that contribute to and affect efforts to improve this situation, based on an analysis of the financial and operational performance of the public bus transit service in the four metropolitan centres and four secondary cities during the 1990s. Overall, there were persistent losses, owing to increasing input costs and declining productivity. The losses occurred despite rapidly increasing fares, and ridership declined. The situation and the ability to address it are worse in the secondary cities than the metropolitan centres. The authors suggest a disaggregated approach based on the needs and motivations of different groups in relation to public transit, along with improved operating conditions and policies to internalize costs of personal motor vehicle use, to address the challenge of providing financially viable and affordable public bus transit service.


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09658564