This report estimates to what extent the decline in national bus patronage over the past decade or so can be attributed to the effect of increasing car ownership. Data from the national travel surveys of 1964/5, 1972/3 and 1975/6 were examined to compare trip-making by bus in households owning no cars, one car, and two or more cars. From this it was estimated that in 1964, for every additional car, 380 bus trips were lost per year as the new car users travelled less frequently by bus, while by 1976 this loss had dropped to 300 bus trips. Over the period 1964-76, this direct effect of increasing car ownership accounted for just under 45 per cent of the observed decline in bus patronage. In addition to this, there is a 'second-round' loss of patronage as bus operators respond to the reduction in revenue by cutting services and increasing fares. If the services were required to break even, then this second-round loss would be almost as great as the patronage lost as a direct result of the newly-acquired cars. However, in the period studied, bus services in the UK moved from break-even to an overall deficit approaching some 30 per cent of costs. Had break-even been maintained the decline in passenger trips would have been considerably larger than the observed drop, and it is estimated that the direct effects of increased car ownership would have accounted for 32 per cent of this larger loss. Second-round effects of car ownership would have accounted for a further 26 per cent, while the remaining 42 per cent would have been due to increased costs of operation and various background trends. The national trend in bus patronage was analysed to estimate elasticities of demand with respect to fares, level of service and real income after the reduction in patronage due to increasing car ownership had been taken into account. A fares elasticity of -0.45 could be reliably established, but correlation between the trends in bus-kilometres run and real income prevented an unambiguous determination of a service elasticity defined in terms of bus kilometres run. /TRRL/

  • Corporate Authors:

    Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL)

    Wokingham, Berkshire  United Kingdom 
  • Authors:
    • Oldfield, R H
  • Publication Date: 1979

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 33 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00300211
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Lab Report LR872 Monograph
  • Files: ITRD, TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 17 1979 12:00AM