Public transport in small towns - an area with great potential


A Persson

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe


In Sweden there are about 60 towns with less than 40 000 inhabitants with a public transport system of their own. The conditions for planning and operating a public transport system in these towns differ in many ways from those in bigger towns, but the area has not been studied much. Focus in research is often on bigger towns and the research results are not always useful for small towns. This paper describes differences in key factors like population density and average trip length in small towns compared with others. These differences also demand a different planning strategy. In many of the studied Swedish towns the bus routes have very good area coverage at the expense of travel times and frequency, which often leads to an unattractive public transport system for people with the possibility of choosing other means of transport. A time series analysis shows how changes in important factors like frequency, travel times and bus routes can affect the number of passengers in the public transport system, excluding other important affecting factors like weather and fuel price. It is also shown how the number of trips varies between towns of similar size, from just a few trips per inhabitant and year up to almost 80 trips per inh. and year. This shows that there is a big potential to increase the number of passengers and develop the public transport system in Swedish small towns. Experience from other parts of Europe, for example Germany and Switzerland, shows that this potential in number of passenger could be as large as over 200 trips per inh. and year, i.e. about three times more than in the Swedish town with the highest number of passengers. A concept with simpler and faster bus routes in the Swedish town Hassleholm (26 000 inh.) has led to an increase in number of passengers of 50 %. 20 % of the new passengers are former car users. This paper refers to the research project “Attractive Public Transport in small cities – Requirements and possibilities in attracting more passengers” at the department of Technology and Society at Lund Institute of Technology.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.