Experience with value-for-money urban public transport system enhancements

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - appraisal/evaluation, economics - fare revenue, economics - operating costs, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, planning - network design, planning - route design, planning - service improvement, planning - service rationalisation


bus, cost-effective, effective, experience, enhancement, public transport, value-for-money


This report reviews research literature and published evidence regarding the value for money of urban public transport enhancements. The improvements most likely to be of value are peak period fare increases (which increase revenue but cause a decline in patronage), bus priority measures, rationalising peak network and service design (reducing vehicle and crew requirements) and bus route (and network) simplification.

Several improvement measures are thought to be ‘on the edge’ of profitability including bus route and network restructuring (where the focus is on reducing costs and refocusing resources on more patronage and revenue effective routes and services), new buses, personal safety and security measures (low-cost measures), real-time passenger information measures and branding, promotion and signage measures.

New services including new routes, extended service hours and spatial coverage plus increased frequency are considered to be higher cost items with medium impacts. Increased frequency and reduced fares are identified as measures with medium-to-high patronage and revenue impacts but with high costs. Hence these are likely to be high net cost items requiring subsidy. Understanding customer needs in each market is important to target improvements and maximise value to existing and potential customers.


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