Understanding the determinants of demand for public transport: Evidence from suburban rail operations in five divisions of Indian Railways

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, mode - rail, economics - fare revenue, ridership - attitudes, ridership - demand, planning - service level


Fare elasticity, Demand for public transport, Suburban rail operations in India, Static/dynamic modelling, Bootstrapping


This paper analyses suburban rail fare elasticity and compares the results across five suburban divisional operations of the Indian Railways in three cities viz., Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. The three cities chosen have a highly varying modal share of public transport trips and thus offer interesting insights into the attitudes of trip makers towards the changes in operational variables such as fares, service levels. This paper contributes towards understanding of the determinants of demand for public transport in a developing country and applies econometric methods involving static and dynamicmodelling methodologies. This research addresses the question of smaller sample sizes which constrain the use of standard regression approaches and applies a bootstrappingmethod which substitutes for traditional assumptions on distributions and asymptotic results. It was found that the suburban rail demand is inelastic to fare which indicates that the revenue would increase with an increase in fare. Finally, the paper illustrates the use of computed elasticities by estimating the demand for suburban rail in Kolkata.


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


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