Differences in Travel Behavior and Demand Potential of Tram-and Bus-Based Neighborhoods Evidence from a Cluster Analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - bus, mode - tram/light rail, operations - frequency


tram, bus, speed, travel time, frequency, demand potential


One of the most contentious issues in public transport planning is whether passengers react differently to rail-based public transport and to bus-based public transport. A key problem is the difficulty in comparing the two modes. Specifically, rail-based modes are often built in higher-density environments that have higher latent public transport demand. Bus routes rarely offer the same service qualities (travel speed, service frequency) as rail service does. An approach that uses cluster analysis of public transport services as a basis for further comparison can account for these evaluated methodological shortcomings. This approach provides the opportunity to compare bus and rail under similar conditions. The authors describe the cluster analysis in which bus and rail transport in Zurich and Berne, Switzerland, were compared. The research considered several public transport qualities regarding travel time, frequency, and number of lines between bus and tram service to a particular stop. Where equivalent service qualities were provided, no significant higher effect existed in tram-based clusters compared with bus-based clusters. Nevertheless, demand potential (defined as numbers of residents and jobs) differed between clusters.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.