Incorporating enhanced service reliability of public transport in cost-benefit analyses


Niels van Oort

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - benefits, mode - bus, mode - tram/light rail, operations - reliability, place - europe, planning - service improvement


Cost benefit analysis, Service reliability, Tram line planning


In this paper, we demonstrate how to calculate the passenger impacts of service unreliability. We show that passengers are affected by longer waiting times and the distribution of travel times. We present a framework to calculate these effects and to express them in monetary values. In the Netherlands and many other countries, service reliability is not explicitly incorporated in cost benefit analyses, although improved service reliability is often one of the main contributions of public transport projects. In an actual case, the replacement of a bus line by a tram line in Utrecht, in The Netherlands, we proved that our framework is valuable and can be applied into practice. By calculating the benefits of the improved service reliability of the proposed tram line, which were about 2/3 of all benefits, the cost benefit ratio was positive, which convinced the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment to support the project by €110 million.


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