Image and public transport (English summary)

People act according to their perceptions. This also applies to public transport. And while people's views of public transport may indeed be based on recent personal experience, it is nevertheless also often the case that travellers' ideas of public transport are based on ‘hearsay' or experiences they had using public transport in the distant past, in which case it is possible that there is little or no correlation between perception and reality.

This report is available in Dutch

Research has revealed that, for example, some car drivers overestimate the travel times and costs associated with public transport. By presenting a more accurate view of public transport, these travellers can helped to make better, more well-informed choices between cars and public transport.

Explanation for public transport's bad image

The study ‘Image and public transport', by KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis, identifies the factors accounting for public transport's bad image. These factors are related to performance, demand, communication and the social and administrative context in which public transport operates.

Starting points for a better image

Some of these explanatory factors offer starting points for creating a better image for public transport. First, the influence of the subconscious presents opportunities. The focus is not on applying rational arguments, but rather on the factors that enhance a trip. Psychological studies have shown that pleasant smells, colours, sounds and music, and a comfortable temperature, unconsciously influence people's behaviour. Second, greater attention should be given to the needs of certain target groups, such as young people. Restyling exteriors and offering modern services (like for example internet access and/or video screens displaying information) could appeal to young people's social expectations. Third, more organisational incentives could lead to product improvements and innovation. In conclusion, it is worthwhile to study the potential benefits of a collective public transport campaign. Such a campaign could generate positive news stories about public transport in the media.