How Do Cities Get Potential Riders More Interested in Public Transit?


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Faster travel, cheaper tickets and an end-to-end multimodal transportation system are key.

City planners looking to promote public transit should focus on changing residents’ travel behavior by informing their transportation decisionmaking, according to a new Conduent report.

For instance, about 70 percent of people surveyed said they’d be more likely to use public transit if the journey was faster, according to “The Customer Experience of Urban Travel.” But while 84 percent of U.S. respondents use a car in the city at least once a month, largely due to the comfort, many don’t realize drivers experience the most frequent delays.

Targeted city campaigns highlighting the benefits of public transit versus people’s perceptions are a start to improving urban mobility.

“Not all speed improvements need a major investment into new infrastructure. Insight from data analytics enables public transport services to map directly to people’s journeys,” writes Joe Avercamp, senior director of technology, policy and strategy at Conduent. “Transit planners, for example, can rearrange routes so they’re more efficient and serve passengers better.”

There’s no substitute for end-to-end multimodal travel, which 52 percent of respondents said they seek.

And traffic apps provide a great way for travelers to see all their service options, re-plan journeys and estimate travel time.

“They can do this by learning about people’s priorities, calculating the actual cost of driving (including time spent, depreciation, fuel, and parking cost) for each individual journey, and proactively suggesting alternatives: another route, a different parking spot, or an alternative to driving altogether,” Matt Darst, Condent vice president of parking and mobility solutions, wrote in the report.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent said lower ticket prices would incentivize public transit use. Cities would be wise to recruit merchants willing to offer free shipping upon seeing a transit ticket to their mobility campaigns.

Encouraging competition between public and private operators while promoting both types of travel options drives down costs for riders.

According to the report, 48 percent of North Americans surveyed expressed frustration or stress over driving in the city, but 58 percent of respondents also said public transport is key to future economic success. In other words, the public takes its public transit seriously and pays attention to advancements in available services.

Conduent, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based business process services company, surveyed residents in 23 cities across 15 countries for the report.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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