Assessing the financial and social costs of public transport in differing operating environments and with endogenous demand

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - demand, ridership - elasticity, ridership - modelling, economics - operating costs, planning - travel demand management


transport planning, cost modelling, passenger demand/supply


This paper uses a previously developed spreadsheet cost model which simulates public transport modes operated on a 12-km route to analyse the total costs of different passenger demand levels. The previous cost model was a very powerful tool to estimate the social and operator costs for different public transport technologies. However, as the model is strategic, some basic assumptions were made which are relaxed in this paper. First, the speed-flow equation in the original spreadsheet model assumes that speed decreases according to the ratio of the current frequency and the lane capacity which is based on the safety headway without taking into account passenger boardings. However, this may vary in different operating environments. Therefore, the speed-flow equation is improved by moving from a linear equation to a piecewise equation that considers the features of different operating environments. Second, the model assumes that supply is sufficient to meet demand. However, when the level of demand is high for the lower-capacity public transport technologies, passengers may find the incoming vehicle full and therefore, they have to wait more than one service interval. This paper applies queuing theory to investigate the probability of having to wait longer than the expected service headways which will affect the average passenger waiting time. The extra waiting time for each passenger is calculated and applied in the spreadsheet cost model. Third, the original model assumed that demand was externally fixed (exogenous). To evaluate the differences after applying these equations, endogenous demand rather than exogenous demand will be investigated by using the elasticities for passenger waiting time and journey time.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.