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  • Series: Research Handbooks in Transport Studies series x
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Nicholas Fournier and Graham Currie

This chapter explores public transport research by analysing the World Transit Research database; a clearinghouse of all digital publications. There are over 7,000 publications in the field which is growing at 7.75% p.a. implying a doubling of research every 9 years. Currently on average, 9.6 papers are published each week. By volume the journal Transportation Research Record represents about a third of all papers but the IEEE publication on ITS has the highest citation rate. By country, the USA has the highest publication rate at 35% of all papers followed by China and Australia. China, Switzerland and New Zealand have the highest growth rates of contemporary publications. Transit research themes of ‘Planning’ and Ridership’ are the focus of 40% of all published papers and ‘Planning ‘ has the highest paper growth rate. Results suggest a growing and diversifying field and many lessons for researchers, publishers and practitioners in transit.

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Laura Aston, Graham Currie, Md Kamruzzaman and Alexa Delbosc

Research focused on understanding the relationship between the built environment and transit use is important for optimising urban transportation networks and encouraging sustainable travel behaviours. To produce generalizable insights, empirical studies need to be designed using an overall research strategy that is fit-for-purpose. This is not an easy task, as there are many barriers to knowledge development in the field. This chapter provides an overview of the theoretical frameworks, sampling and estimation methods and indicators relevant to designing empirical built environment and transit use research. Case studies are used to demonstrate the trade-offs that need to be considered when choosing between alternative approaches. The chapter concludes with recommendations and future directions for empirical research aimed at better understanding the built environment and transit use connection.

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Madalena Harreman-Fernandes, Ehab Diab, Boer Cui, James DeWeese, Miles Crumley and Ahmed El-Geneidy

Many public transport agencies conduct customer satisfaction surveys to evaluate service quality. These surveys can often yield misleading results due to poor design or failing to elicit feedback not directly asked in the questions. Some researchers and professionals argue that customer complaints are a better indicator of service quality as they directly reveal deficiencies. A recent study at McGill University analyzed customer complaint data from Portland, Oregon’s TriMet transport agency and linked it to automatic vehicle location (AVL) and automatic passenger counters (APC) data. By linking operations to complaints data, it was discovered that complaints regarding pass ups, late arrivals/departures and reckless driving were significantly associated with higher maximum and average trip loads, faster maximum segment speeds, and longer average stop delays. This demonstrates the potential of using customer complaints and transit operations data to help identify and validate perceived service deficiencies and inform decisions to improve service.

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Graham Currie, Mustafizur Rahaman, Carlyn Muir and Alexa Delbosc

This chapter presents new tools to address crime and perceptions of crime on public transport. It is the first research to quantify factors affecting perceptions of safety (POS) at stations and influences of station design quality, anti-social behaviour (ASB), crime rates and experience of crime at stations and within the wider community and individual psychological and social-demographic factors. It presents a new tool to measure station design quality using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts. Results show that POS at stations is most closely linked to feelings of safety in the local neighbourhood. The design of CPTED features is less important than their visibility to passengers since its their satisfaction with these designs that influences POS. These features and ASB were also found to be more influential than actual personal experience of crime. Policy and research implications are discussed.

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Selby Coxon, Robbie Napper, Ilya Fridman and Vincent Moug

There is a widely acknowledged understanding that the mood and behaviours of human beings are influenced by their surroundings. That aesthetically pleasing environments and objects that are easy to use, engender a better quality of life than those that do not. This chapter examines how an attentive and progressive approach to the design of public transport infrastructure brings benefits to both passengers and operators. Contemporary discourse in the wider discipline looks upon design as both a verb and a noun and that ‘designing’ is both a form of research as well as the quality of an outcome. Something superior that has emerged from the sequencing of steps that make up a process. Drawn from the British Design Council’s Double Diamond mapping of the design process, this chapter examines each step as a research tool for the staged activities most pertinent to reach a desired outcome in the context of public transport.

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Graham Currie and Alexa Delbosc

This chapter focuses on recent research discoveries which have been applied in practice and found to significantly reduce revenue loss in public transport. It starts with an overview of research in fare evasion, a major study undertaken by the authors in Melbourne is then outlined including key findings and the methods adopted with a focus on psychological motivations of offenders. A major discovery of the research was that ‘recidivist evaders’ ; those that almost always fare evade, represent a small number of people but cause most revenue loss. Recommendations of the research were applied resulting in a halving of revenue loss (from 12% of 5% of trips) saving some $Aust 45M p.a. ($US 31M). A follow-on international study of 10 cities is also described demonstrated that the problem of recidivist evaders was apparent in all cities.

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Wijnand Veeneman

Public transport is the product of a whole history of decisions. From the initial decision to built roads or rails to the latest tweaking of the services. A large part of the literature on public transport is trying to support that decision-making by understanding the characteristics of specific infrastructure, vehicles, and services. However also, the way in which those decisions are made influences which of those options are regarded the most attractive. Governance can be seen as the conditioning of the decision-making, the rule sets used to make decisions, also on public transport. This chapter illustrates how governance can be designed in different ways to drive public transport into different directions.

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John Preston

This chapter examines the total social cost (TSC) of public transport which is a summation of operator, user and external costs and has a history dating back to at least the 1960s. We begin by examining the TSC of intra-urban public transport modes in the United Kingdom (UK), including personal rapid transit, guided bus and light rapid transit. We then examine international research on this approach in China (including straddle bus), in Vietnam (including powered two-wheelers and monorail) and inter-city public transport in Saudi Arabia (including High speed rail, maglev and hyperloop). We then consider the prospects for this research approach going forwards.

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James Reynolds and Graham Currie

Research on priority for buses and trams in streets has focussed almost exclusively on traffic engineering design, new technologies to manage traffic signals or the justification for priority. Yet the technical justification for transit priority in congested urban conditions is simple; buses and streetcars can move people more efficiently than private cars and therefore can make better use of the limited road space and intersection time that is available in urban areas. Despite this, implementing transit priority measures in practice has proven to be very difficult particularly in car centric cities where most voters drive. Unfortunately, transport research is yet to fully come to grips with how non-technical factors such as politics, institutions and governance structures can help or hinder transit priority implementation, in part because authorities may be “keener to publish success stories than to share learnings resulting from system failures” (Currie 2016, p. 490). More generally, research in transportation policy journals tends to focus on techno-rational approaches based around normative models, technology development and statistical and quantitative analysis (Mees 2010) despite “a need to engage with substantive questions of governance which pay greater attention to context, politics, power, resources and legitimacy”(Marsden & Reardon 2017). This chapter responds to this gap. It outlines a new conceptual framework and pragmatic strategies for transit priority implementation in car-centric cities. These are the contributions from a PhD research program using case study research methodology to examine the empirical context of priority implementation in Melbourne, Toronto, Zürich and Curitiba through the lens of public policy analysis and legitimacy theory. The research findings suggest three approaches for improving the implementation of transit priority in car-centric cities: building legitimacy before implementation; avoiding impacts on other road users; and building legitimacy through implementation. A series of pragmatic strategies for priority implementation are offered which can provide a powerful tool for transport authorities to realise the benefits of transit priority into the future.

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Joel Mendez, James Wood, Dristi Neog and Jeffrey Brown

Public transport services require funding to purchase, operate, and maintain vehicles, pay staff, and make strategic investments to maintain or increase patronage. Drawing primarily from United States experience, this chapter identifies a range of public transport funding options that include: 1) fare-based mechanisms (including directly-paid passenger fares and indirectly-paid fares such as employer or university-based pass programs; 2) locally-generated revenues (including sales taxes, payroll taxes, charges on motorists, and agency-generated advertising revenues); 3) intergovernmental grants (that involve funding transfers to the public transport operator from other government entities); and 4) urban development-based taxes and fees (including joint development strategies, special assessments, and private contributions). The chapter discusses their use in real-world circumstances, and assesses their strengths and limitations. The chapter concludes with reflections on the funding mechanisms and calls for additional research on their use.