Commuters’ behavior towards upgraded bus services in Greater Beirut: Implications for greenhouse gas emissions, social welfare and transport policy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, mode - bus, mode - car, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice, ridership - behaviour, policy - environment, technology - emissions, planning - environmental impact, planning - service improvement, planning - surveys, infrastructure - vehicle, economics - pricing


Choice experiment, Commuter behavior, Greenhouse gas emissions, Mode switching, Public transport policy, Upgraded bus service


Climate change is one of the most critical environmental challenges faced in the world today. The transportation sector alone contributes to 22% of carbon emissions, of which 80% are contributed by road transportation. In this paper we investigate the potential private car greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and social welfare gains resulting from upgrading the bus service in the Greater Beirut Area. To this end, a stated preference (SP) survey on mode switching from private car to bus was conducted in this area and analyzed by means of a mixed logit model. We then used the model outputs to simulate aggregate switching behavior in the study area and the attendant welfare and environmental gains and private car GHG emissions reductions under various alternative scenarios of bus service upgrade. We recommend a bundle of realistic bus service improvements in the short term that will result in a reasonable shift to buses and measurable reduction in private car emissions. We argue that such improvements will need to be comprehensive in scope and include both improvements in bus level of service attributes (access/egress time, headway, in-vehicle travel time, and number of transfers) and the provision of amenities, including air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Moreover, such a service needs to be cheaply priced to achieve reasonably high levels of switching behavior. With a comprehensively overhauled bus service, one would expect that bus ridership would increase for commuting purposes at first, and once the habit for it is formed, for travel purposes other than commuting, hence dramatically broadening the scope of private car GHG emissions reduction. This said, this study demonstrates the limits of focused sectorial policies in targeting and reducing private car GHG emissions, and highlights the need for combining behavioral interventions with other measures, most notably technological innovations, in order for the contribution of this sector to GHG emissions mitigation to be sizable.


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


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