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"Barriers to Using Public Transport" by Derek Halden, Director, the Derek Halden Consultancy Ltd. - Glasgow meeting of 23 September 2003

At a well-attended joint meeting with the IHT and ICE, Derek Halden provided a thought provoking survey of the Barriers to Using Public Transport. He began by looking at some of the research work carried out previously and showed that there were three main strands that had to be taken into consideration, these being the typography of the barriers, travel behaviour and psychology and barriers to modal shifts.

Derek Halden, one of the Scottish Region Committee members, addressing the September 2003 meeting in Glasgow.d

Derek Halden, one of the Scottish Region Committee members, addressing the September 2003 meeting in Glasgow.

© John G. Fender 2011

Accessibility can be broken down into various components, including spatial, physical, temporal, financial and environmental. However, there are a number of barriers and there are three main factors to be considered.

Firstly, there are the "hard" factors, such as costs, time, reliability, car ownership and land use plans. Secondly come the "soft" factors, such as information, comfort and effort required.

Finally, there are the "complimentary" factors, including non-transport influences, time budgets, need to convey others and the weather. Until now only the "hard" factors have been considered in various models, but the "soft" factors are also important.

When considering the "hard" factors, car travel is generally quicker and cheaper, but the value of time varies from person to person and from group to group. Additionally, some locations anchor public transport competitiveness. The evidence as to reliability as a factor is unclear and it should be remembered that accessibility and choice vary. The "soft" factors include such aspects as car dependent people who value their independence, privacy and express their personality through their car. When it comes to public transport barriers, a number of items arise, including laziness, inconvenience, reliability, safety and the dislike of waiting. To these should be added the trip characteristics, including the complexity of the journey and the effort of making it.

Additionally, there are directed and undirected constraints on the journey which are a factor to be considered. In addition to all of these factors, there are those that fall into the category of "complementary". These include technology, mobile offices, mobile phones, attitudes to public transport, lifestyle issues, stable travel time budgets personality characteristics, employment factors, legal aspects and tax liabilities. In order to provide bridges between these factors and public transport, it is necessary to provide improvements to alternatives, make car travel less attractive, address all the barriers and recognise trade offs.

Travel behaviour factors are also important and it is necessary to identify the constructs that determine behaviour. This includes awareness of problems, the purposes of travel and habitual behaviour. Generally, people are resistant to change and these behavioural patterns can enable viable alternatives to be made more attractive. In the Glasgow area, a number of surveys have been carried out and these included telephone interviews to provide information for constructs, focus groups for car users along with a postal questionnaire. The research revealed that the priority issues from the focus groups were:

Car - Parking, stress, speed, comfort and cost.
Rail - Security, lack of seats, reliability and cost.
Bus - travel time, security, waiting times and information.

The key barriers that were identified were:

Bus - Travel time for commuting, information and personal security.
Rail - no important rail issues were identified.

The research identified that the top bus improvements were:

- Improved information, including electronic and published information at bus stops.
- Reduced journey times
- CCTV on buses and at bus stops
- New payment methods and ticketing.

The top rail improvements identified were:

- Better maintenance
- CCTV on trains
- More park and ride parking spaces
- More flexibility on payment methods
- Reduce the cost of tickets.

It was found that travel to and from work and education had more constraints than journeys for other reasons. 43% of respondents identified employment criteria precluding public transport. This was mainly due work times or the need to use a car for work purposes. In order to deliver improvements, small improvements should be made before large ones, for example, the provision of better information or improved reliability. Workplaces should take travel planning into account as part of the employment process. The improved use of public transport will require more of a partnership approach between service providers and infrastructure providers, together with better incentives to make the use of buses and trains more attractive.

Report by John Fender.


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