Opportunities and strategies for increasing bus ridership in rural Japan: A case study of Hidaka City

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, mode - bus, place - asia, ridership - mode choice, ridership - growth


public transport, bus, small city, rural area, patronage, Japan


Attracting people to use the public bus has never been easy. Private vehicles have typically offered better alternatives than the public bus at the cost of environmental problems. The challenge is even greater in rural areas and small cities where factors such as diverse activity locations, abundant parking lots, and non-existence of traffic jams have justified the use of private car as a commuting mode. This paper tries to address this challenge by analyzing the prospect of increasing patronage for a local public bus in Hidaka City, a small city in Japan. A questionnaire survey collected from three main residential complexes in the city was used in the analysis. The study mainly focused on work commuting trips and the respondents were categorized into train commuters and non-train commuters for the analysis. The results showed that up to a 14% increase can be expected from the train commuters with the majority share coming from motorized modes. Strategic implementation in improving the services was not as straight forward as expected. However, the findings indicated that the right direction had been pursued.


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


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