Quantifying the Importance of Image and Perception to Bus Rapid Transit

The Federal Transit Administration recently funded a study quantifying the importance of image and perception to bus rapid transit (BRT). This article summarizes the study and its major findings. A series of focus groups, followed by a survey on attitudes, was conducted in the Los Angeles region. Los Angeles currently offers a conventional bus service, a "BRT-lite" service that operates in mixed traffic and relies on headway-based schedules and high-frequency service, and a full-service BRT. In addition, light rail transit and heavy rail transit also operate in the region. Survey findings show that statistically significant differences existed in the overall rating of the alternative transit modes, with local bus service ranking lowest and heavy rail transit ranking highest. BRT-lite, full-service BRT and light rail transit were ranked similarly. When the overall rankings were compared against the actual level of investment associated with each mode, the BRT-lite service was shown to perform very well in terms of overall rating achieved per dollar of investment. In terms of overall performance, the tangible attributes of reliability and service frequency received the highest overall ratings, along with the intangible attribute of ride safety. The study also showed that urban context, rather than just mode of service, exerts a significant influence on the relative attractiveness of transit services by directly impacting intangible service attributes like perception of safety. Light-rail and BRT services that ran through primarily affluent areas were ranked higher than those that ran through more economically-deprived areas. Improving the image of the urban area surrounding a transit service therefore may be more important than the mode itself in increasing the ridership attraction potential of that service.

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Cain, Alasdair
    • Flynn, Jennifer
  • Publication Date: 2009-9


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01147971
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 6 2010 9:43PM