Social capital and local public transportation in Japan

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, economics - appraisal/evaluation, economics - benefits, mode - tram/light rail, mode - bus, policy - social exclusion, land use - impacts


Local public transportation, Social capital, Social exclusion, Japan, Transport policy


Local public transportation except in metropolitan areas in Japan faces operating difficulties due to business deficits. In recent years, central and local governments have taken social benefits into account to support local public transportation, but social benefits calculated in their cost-benefit analyses seem to be insufficient to evaluate them. Especially since the great earthquake in 2011, Japanese people have begun to rethink the importance of network and trust in neighborhoods, which can be called as ‘social capital,’ based on mobility. Therefore, focusing on ‘social capital,’ this paper tries to find the role of local public transportation beyond social benefits. Specifically, it makes an empirical analysis on the relationship between the indexes of ‘social capital’ and local bus services using cross section data. As a result, network and participation indexes standing for ‘social capital’ in each prefecture positively correlate with the level of local bus services. Also, according to our survey research in Toyama, introduction of a new LRT line is likely to have considerably changed the activities of residents along the line and has tended to promote more opportunities to come into contact with others than before. Those studies shed light on the role of public transportation from the standpoint of ‘social capital.’


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


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