The choice of the passenger
People want to get from A to B as quickly as possible, according to research into the desires of the travelling public. The shorter the door to door journey, the better. Regarding public transport use, passengers do not spend the majority of their travel time on the tram, bus or train; rather, most of their time is spent travelling to and from stops (the so-called access and egress time), and waiting and changing lines.
A frequent-service network
The government wants public transport to be more centered around passengers.
But… what exactly do passengers want?
Research has shown that most people above all want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. The shorter the journey from door to door, the better.
Much of the door-to-door journey time is actually time passengers spend off the tram, bus or train:
Travelling to and from the stop, or so-called access and egress time... plus the time spent waiting and changing lines.
To reduce the total journey time, there are two ways of spreading the available vehicles over a given area.
One option is ‘dense’: more lines and stops, but the bus or tram travels less frequently. [...] That means a shorter distance to the stop… but longer waiting times.
The other option is ‘frequent’: fewer lines and stops but the bus or tram travels more often. So there’s less waiting time, but you have to leave earlier to get to the stop.
Research has shown that passengers prefer the second option: less waiting time. Because waiting time […] passes […] slowly!
Passengers prove to be willing to travel further to stops where public transport passes more frequently.
They just walk a little further, go by bike or even travel by skateboard.
It’s easier to plan the journey, because the bus… will arrive soon anyway!
In addition, fewer stops means less stopping… so passengers reach their destination faster.
And if the service is more frequent, you have fewer worries about being on time for your connection.
Moreover, stops on a frequent service are used more intensively. So it becomes more attractive to invest in things like bicycle parking facilities. Making the journey even more pleasant.
Finally, a frequent-service network also combines well with trends such as electric bikes, taxi-sharing and self-driving cars – all of which take care of a ‘dense’ transportation network!
Are there no drawbacks whatsoever?
Yes, there are.
For people who have difficulty walking, some 6% of the Dutch population, those additional meters to the stop can be problematic.
For that reason they already make use of alternatives such as personalized ridesharing or door-to-door services.
Above all, this type of frequent-service network is more than just a theoretical reality. Berlin has already demonstrated this. Since 2004, 26 so-called ‘MetroBuses’ have been in service. These buses arrive every ten minutes – or more frequently! Services on infrequently used lines have been reduced or terminated.
The objective was 2% more passengers and a 3% cost reduction. This was accomplished. There were 30% more passengers on the MetroBus services. And because the network as a whole became more attractive, other services expanded too.
In other words, frequent is the choice for the public transport passenger of the future!
In order to reduce as much as possible the travel time spent off of the transport mode, the majority of travelers prefer frequent over dense: passengers prefer higher frequency public transport lines, and, moreover, they are willing to walk longer distances to such stops than is currently deemed acceptable. Or they will simply cycle to the transport stop. High frequency public transport also provides passengers with greater certitude and ease of use. A network with higher frequency but less density is not only faster on average for most travelers but also less expensive to operate. For example, e-bikes, mobility scooters, personalized ridesharing and door-to-door services are already part of dense transport networks, which are of particular importance for the approximately 6 percent of passengers who have difficulty walking or cycling relatively longer distances. In the longer term, self-driving cars may also play a role.
These are the conclusions of a literature analysis that the KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis has compiled in an animated video. The Directorate General for Accessibility: Public Transport and Railways administration (DGB-OVenS) commissioned KiM to conduct research into the desires of the travelling public, as the government wants passengers to be the main focus of public transport policy.