Examining the Ridership Attraction Potential of Bus Rapid Transit: A Quantitative Analysis of Image and Perception

Journal of Public Transportation Article in Volume 16, Issue 4 (2013) by Alasdair Cain and Jennifer Flynn

If public transit is to attract discretionary riders, it must offer high-quality service and convey an attractive image. Although Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is designed to emulate rail-based transit, there is little quantitative evidence of whether BRT can capture the ridership attraction benefits associated with rail. A combination of focus groups and an attitudinal survey were conducted to assess BRT’s ability to replicate the high-quality image and ridership attraction benefits associated with rail, and to quantify the tangible and intangible factors that drive perceptual differences between alternative transit modes. Research was fielded in Los Angeles due to the city’s range of rapid transit modes. Overall, findings show that full-service BRT can replicate both the functionality standards and image qualities normally associated with rail, and that even a lower-investment “BRT-lite” service performs remarkably well in terms of overall rating achieved per dollar invested. More generally, results indicate that the image of the surrounding urban area may have greater influence on aggregate perceptions than whether a transit service is based on bus or rail technology. View the full article or the entire Journal issue.

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