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The Key Elements to a Successful Public Transport System

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Public transport is an important and necessary aspect of modern day society. It can be defined as transport that is available to the public, that charge set fares, and runs along set routes. For example, buses, trains, light rail, ferries and so on. It is essential to be successful when planning and developing a public transport system as this can have an abundance of advantages when completed correctly, such as environmental and financial sustainability, increased tourism revenue for all involved, increased housing value, opportunities for physical activity and a holistic heightened quality of life. If managed poorly this can have a detrimental effect on the region, such as lower housing values, environmental effects, increased crime rates and anti-social behaviour. A quality public transport system is indispensable in any advanced society and those who are lacking will be at a severe disadvantage.

Sustainability has been identified as a key concern for public transport planning. The goal is to create a public transport system that meets public environmental, social and economic needs. The environmental impacts of public transport on the world have been widely acknowledged in recent years. Due to the transport sector almost solely relying on fossil fuels, nearly a quarter of all Greenhouse Gases were contributed to transport in 2007 around Europe. The quality and effectiveness of transportation systems must be increased due to the demand of the public meanwhile decreasing environmental pollution. Deviating preferred methods of transport to the public system can help mitigate social and environmental problems. (Susniene 2012)

The infrastructure of transportation plays a vital role in sustaining the economy. The growth of tourism in the United States has urged the government to commit to developing a high speed, national rail system. It is argued that a rapid rail system would alleviate accessibility restrictions and improve tourism around the country. American citizens were also positive about the idea as this new rail system would ease traffic congestion and also minimising fuel consumption and parking problems. For tourists, a high speed rail system can help intertwine its various tourism products and services. However major attractions and destinations may lose significant amounts of income due to the accessibility of alternative opportunities. For a project like this to be successful and profitable, tourism providers must work towards a long term goal for sustainable advantage throughout the region. (Becker & George 2011)

Increasing the financial sustainability of public transport will allow funds to be spent more efficiently, such as advocating for the effectiveness of the transport system rather than using private cars, which produces increased amounts of fossil fuels. In Germany, the share of operating expenses which were covered by paying customers raised from 59% in 1991 to 77% in 2007. In order to achieve financial sustainability the public transport system must be planned extensively (Buehler & Pucher 2011). However, many other professionals argue that long term planning does not produce increased financial sustainability. It is contended that day-to-day planning lowers and neglects long term environmental goals, taking a more focused approach on economic sustainability (Hrelja 2011).

The use of public transport not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also promotes physical activity to the individuals that partake. Studies show that 29% of people that walk to and from public transport reach the recommended daily amount of physical activity. It is argued that limiting the convenience of parking, and manipulating costs such as car travel and petrol among other things, will deter people from using personal car travel and increase the likelihood of using public transport, resulting in an increase of physical activity. Furthermore, it is conveyed that individuals do not in fact desire minimal commuting time and further studies reveal that half of employees covet for a travel time of 20 minutes or more, while only 3% wish for less than 2 minutes of commuting time. Workers expressed that they enjoyed being able to complete their daily exercise while travelling rather than allocating alternative times throughout the day. The opportunity for physical activity in the use of public transport has an array of health benefits to society. (Merom et al. 2008)

Research has revealed that users of private vehicles have shown willingness to switch to the use of public transport if this mode of transport shows improved quality and efficiency. Furthermore, it is also known that users of the car have underestimated the quality of their experience when using public transport and are positively surprised by their predisposed improbable satisfaction. It is suggested that this is the reason why neglecters of the public transport system are doing so as their expectations of the standard are set too low. This is due to the majority of the public having little experience and knowledge when it comes to using public transport. That is why it is important to advocate and advertise the necessity of using public transport in order to achieve environmental and economic sustainability. (Pedersen et al. 2011)

Successful implementation of public transport can have major impacts on tourism, which will consequently significantly affect the economy. The largest cities around the world with the greatest levels of tourism have government bodies which actively promote public transport. Bus, metro and train systems are essential services for tourists arriving at large cities as private transport is deemed too expensive or scarce. Tourism clearly increases demand for public transport and because of the extensive pressure, public transport systems need to be adaptable making it an important element for city planners (Albalate & Bel 2010). Although this is controversial as some experts believe that is it difficult to assess the impact of tourism as transport corporations cannot distinguish commuters from tourists (Becker & George 2011).

Des Rosiers et al. (2010) conducted a study between 1993 and 1997, attempting to determine whether the quality of bus service in an urban area would translate into high house values. Regular routes, Metro bus and express routes were individually considered when establishing the effect on house prices. Findings suggest that increasing the frequency of regular bus routes adversely affected house values. Contrastingly, increasing the frequency of express routes has positive influences on the values of housing as it proved to be a convenient substitute for the private car. This resolves that having a quality and successful bus service in an urban area will increase the value of housing. Although if the service is conceived poorly, this will have an opposite effect, making the houses of lesser value (Rosiers et al. 2010)

It can be difficult to assess the quality of a service as it is influenced by the perceptions of the public which takes into account the customers preferences and behaviours. Analysing and assessing the quality of a service allows it to be improved and therefore increase the attractiveness to society. Customers continue to require higher standards of service which results in higher expectations for quality. The assessment of the quality of public transport is completed using a set of criteria determined by the views of the passengers. Eight pieces of criteria form an assessment outlining the desired and required performance from the customers. Quality comes at a cost, so operators must strike a balance between the quality of service and the possibility of providing it. A quality urban public transport will lead to reducing traffic congestion and improving the quality of life for many cities around the world (Dragu et al. 2013).

Anti-social behaviour is ever present within the public transport system and it is complex and challenging issue. This is because it cannot be tamed using a single government policy but, many preventative policies must be put in place to enable change. Public transport is a medium in which an abundance of social groups meet, resulting in the potential for dispute. There is evidence that eradicating anti-social behaviour on public transport would culminate in a rise of paying passengers. Studies completed in the United Kingdom showed that 32 percent of survey respondents were concerned with anti-social behaviour on public transport, with up to 76 percent claiming to have witness this. Reducing anti-social behaviour on public transport is fundamental in order to increase the overall presence of passengers making use of the service (Moore 2010).

There are many key elements which forge the public transport system and if it is to be carried out successfully each of these components must interact. The crucial aims are long-term environmental, social and economic sustainability. For this to happen, customers within society must be attracted to oversee their personal vehicles in favour of public transport. The reduced cars of the roads will therefore decrease greenhouse gas emissions enhancing environmental sustainability. Furthermore, a greater number of paying customers will commit a rise to economic sustainability as seen in Germany. The public transport system will be assessed in and around Sydney in Assessment 3. The quality and allure of public transport is the most important aspect to achieving long term sustainability both environmentally and economically.

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