The Main Determinants of the Demand For Public Transport: An International Econometric Comparative Analysis

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - demand


The aim of this paper is to set up an inventory of the key features favouring the urban public transport (PT) use. The analysis rests on the UITP (Union International of Transport Public) database – “The millennium cities database” – which is based on a 100 city urban transport systems data collection. It contains 175 variables which concern demography, urban structure, economy, car ownership, road and public transport networks, parking facilities, mobility, transport systems efficiency and their impacts on the environment. First, we produce a couple of profiles with respect to urban structure, economic level, urban transport system and mobility. The first group is composed of the West European and Asian agglomerations which describe an intensive profile of urban transport system: i.e. high urban density, high PT supply, moderate road supply and important PT modal share. The second group gathers the North American and Oceanic agglomerations. It characterises an extensive profile of urban transport system: i.e. low urban density, high road supply and high car modal share. These agglomerations are characterised by wide space and time consumption. Eventually, the agglomerations of Emergent countries are too heterogeneous to compose a relevant profile. Second, we assess the role of the main variables on the PT use (i.e. urban density, population, urban area, densities, urban GDP, transport supply, parking facilities, transport costs, transport investments). For each relation, we examine the position of both intensive and extensive profiles. However, this one-dimensional analysis does not traduce the complexity of the modal choice. It suggests then to explore some relations with multiple explicative variables. So we propose an econometric analysis of the PT modal share which leads to think about the handling of the tools favouring PT use. We perform several econometric models applied to the extensive or intensive profiles. The first model retains the following explicative variables: part of the urban gross domestic product invested in PT, price of fuel, user costs ratio of public and private transport, speeds ratio of public and private transport, number of parking places in the CBD. The estimation produces significant results. Furthermore, the regression shows, on the one hand, a positive effect of the part of urban GDP invested in public transport, the price of fuel and the speeds ratio, on the other hand, a negative effect of the user costs ratio and the parking places in the centre on PT modal share. In the second model, we test the discriminating power of profiles. Finally, we propose a model for each agglomeration profile. To conclude, this analysis highlights the conditions in favour of the urban PT use. Furthermore, it assesses the weight of the tools which could influence the modal choice of commuters (relative prices and speeds of transport modes, fuel price, investment policies and parking policies).


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