A simple makeover can increase bus ridership: The story of Tayo bus

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - asia, place - urban, ridership - behaviour, ridership - growth


Public transportation, Bus ridership, Tayo bus, Difference in differences


We show that simply decorating buses with famous animation characters can substantially increase the bus ridership. In April 2014, the Metropolitan Government of Seoul decorated four buses with popular animation characters. One month later, the Seoul Government increased the number of decorated buses to 100. As this “decoration” policy/treatment affected only some regions in Seoul, we estimate the effects of the policy using ‘difference in differences’ that is the difference between the before–after ridership difference of the affected regions and that of the unaffected regions. We find a statistically significant increase of about 6 riders per day at each bus stop as the number of decorated bus routes at the bus stop increases by one in May 2014. This number may sound small, but it is meaningful because it costs only about $1000 per bus to implement the policy, and the bus fare revenue increase in May 2014 alone is many times greater than the total makeover expense.


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


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