Relationship between service quality and demand for inter-urban buses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, ridership - mode choice, ridership - perceptions, ridership - demand, economics - willingness to pay


Public transport demand, Transport planning, Inter-urban bus service


This article proposes a model for analysing the modal choice of travellers making inter-urban journeys. Discrete choice models with systematic and random tastes variation were applied to find the most relevant variables for encouraging the use of public transport by bus rather than private car. This research follows on from the results of previous user satisfaction studies on inter-urban bus services in the province of Burgos (Spain). Willingness to pay is also estimated for time savings or other improvements in the bus service.

The results indicate that, in general, improvements in the journey time or the number of daily journeys are valued less by inter-urban bus users than they are by car or railway users. The type of bus and its characteristics are evaluated as a function of the distance travelled and result in very small values for this variable. Contrary to what is often reported in satisfaction surveys, the journey cost is found to be relevant when choosing which mode of transport to use, but the most important variable is journey time. Little value is placed on the features of the bus, except on long distance journeys.

Finally, a methodology differentiating four hierarchical groups is presented for comparing the results of the relevant variables in demand and satisfaction models. Some only improve perception rather than encourage new users, while others increase take-up but do not improve the image of the service.


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


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