Quality of public transport in times of expenditure reductions: what is important to the public transport user?

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, mode - bus, ridership - behaviour, ridership - attitudes, economics - subsidy


public transport, behaviour, mobility patterns, The Netherlands, subsidies


Public transport is often considered by policy makers as an important alternative to road transport, especially in urban areas. Increased levels of public transport levels may contribute to less traffic congestion and increase the quality of life (sustain-ability) also for those who have less travel options. Travel decisions and the choice between public transport and alternatives is a very interesting study area and very relevant to enhance a certain level of accessibility in specific regions. Public trans-port is often heavily subsided by government for those reasons. However, the qual-ity of public transport is nowadays at stake because public budget deficits. Also in the Netherlands public transport should provide the same quality with less funding. This paper presents results from a large Dutch survey amongst public transport users asking them about public transport behaviour in the past and in recent times and relates this to user opinions about quality decisions of policy makers now that they have to cut expenses which will affect the quality level of public transport. Many studies have tried to explain travel behaviour, but most of these have been looking at the effects of “hard" factors affecting quality such as price and frequency. This paper presents new work and analyses responses from an extensive survey amongst Dutch public transport users. It links existing travel behaviour of public transport users in the Netherlands to mobility patterns in the past and impor-tant lifetime decisions such as moving house or changing job. Past travel behaviour and important decisions may affect existing travel decisions and opinions about public transport quality. The data collection has just been finished and first results are interesting and promising. In the paper we will reveal whether lifetime decisions have affected travel decisions of public transport users. It may also appear that using public transport in student years (which is an important reason in the Netherlands for providing subsided public transport travel passes to students) may affect future use of public transport. The study also reveals what the traveler considers as important quality determinants, and what is of minor relevance which is of use to the Dutch policy makers when investment decisions should be made.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by AET, copyright remains with them.