Strategies to achieve goals

In order to increase ridership and transit mode share and meet the ultimate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion, a portion of the population who primarily use an automobile for transportation will need to make alternative travel choices. This target group is referred to as “choice” riders because they have other options for transportation and will only choose to use transit if they see it as a better option than their single-occupant vehicle.

In some communities, ridership will likely increase by expanding transit services into areas where an existing demand for services is not currently being met.

In other communities where transit services largely meet existing demand, more significant change will need to occur to shift people from automobiles to transit. Transit systems will need to be seen as a better alternative to personal vehicles and consumers will need to change their travel behaviour.

Text box Q -  Factors encouraging ridership growth (click image to enlarge)

  • For example, in Victoria, there are plans to introduce rapid transit to achieve a substantial shift in transportation choices for commuters.

In order to attract more people to transit, it is useful for transit systems to understand the key factors that influence peoples’ satisfaction with transit services. In addition, it is important to assess which of these factors the transit agency can influence, and what the potential costs and benefits of addressing each factor would be.

BC Transit has done some analysis of these service satisfaction factors using a “penalty/rewards” framework.

Their research found that the key attributes that affect overall customer satisfaction with transit are:

  • Personal safety while riding the bus
  • Clean and well maintained buses
  • Courteous bus drivers
  • On-time service

In addition, factors such as daytime service frequency and trip duration are classified as strong “linear” attributes. This means that being rated poorly on these attributes will result in overall dissatisfaction, and being rated highly will result in satisfaction. The research states that because of this linear relationship, good customer ratings on these attributes are important.

The frequency of evening service is a strong reward attribute, suggesting it has potential to add value and satisfaction among transit users but may not be a first priority for attracting new riders. Other factors such as overcrowding, reasonable fare prices, and payment options were found to be minor contributors to overall customer satisfaction.

To consider: Do we fully understand the most important factors that influence British Columbians' satisfaction with transit services and their travel mode choices (this may differ by region and community)?

Which of these factors are within the control of BC Transit? The Ministry? Local governments?

Are the benefits greater than the costs of the option(s) being considered to change transportation behaviour?