The long-term prevalence of car dependency has resulted in a series of persistent urban problems, including congestion, environmental pollution and social inequity, and threatens the survival of urban public transport (UPT). One response to these problems has been an international rising trend to implement Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as a cost-effective means to progress towards more sustainable urban transport. Despite the growing popularity of BRT implementation worldwide, little is known about the travel behaviour dynamics associated with BRT. Given that the understanding of travel behaviour is a critical component for public transport planning and policy, this deficit may critically hinder our ability to inform future BRT-related policy.
This research presents three empirical investigations of interrelated travel behaviour dynamics of BRT passengers, providing an enhanced evidence base on which future BRT-related policy can be founded. Drawing on Brisbane (Australia) as the case study coupled with three distinct datasets (i.e., census, smart card and primary survey data), BRT passenger travel behaviour is investigated from three complementary perspectives, namely, modal share patterns of BRT catchments, spatial-temporal dynamics of current BRT usage and behavioural intentions of BRT passengers. Examinations from these three perspectives capture a broad spectrum of travel behaviour dynamics that collectively render a more holistic understanding of BRT usage.
First, the modal share patterns of BRT catchments are examined before and after BRT implementation to shed light on the extent to which the travel behaviour was altered by the implementation of BRT. Drawing on census data from three periods, marked increases in bus and walk shares, and decreases in private car share for work trips were revealed after BRT implementation at both walk-in (800-metre) catchments and the bus-in/drive-in catchments (up to three kilometres). Regression modelling highlights marked increases in female, lone person commuters as well as ‘choice’ passengers who have access to private cars within the vicinity of BRT stations.
Next, drawing on smart card data, the spatial-temporal dynamics of current BRT usage are examined to reveal the role of the BRT embedded within the UPT network in catering for passengers’ travel needs. To exploit the utility of smart card data, a geo-visualisation-based method (the flow-comap) is developed to visualise and analyse the spatial-temporal patterns of BRT-related trips. The results highlight distinct trip characteristics and spatial-temporal patterns of BRT-related trips against the remaining on-road bus trips. The spatial heterogeneity of passenger trip patterns using the exclusive busway of the BRT across the bus network is also revealed, this encompasses: (1) the South East Busway (SEB), which serves as a stronger corridor in collecting trips around Brisbane than the Northern Busway (NB) and (2) differing temporal trip patterns which are associated with the SEB rather than the NB.
Last, to capture the attitudinal mechanisms of travel behaviour, BRT passengers’ behavioural intentions (i.e., loyalty, intention to increase BRT use and intention to shift to private car use) are modelled by using primary survey data. A number of small yet significant differences in the behavioural intentions are revealed in association with the socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics of passengers. More importantly, a series of regression models highlight that the loyalty and intention of passengers to increase BRT use were positively associated with their evaluations of BRT service and pro-environmental responsibility, while their intention to change to private car use negatively related with these attitudinal factors. Furthermore, regressing passengers’ loyalty on their attitudes related to private car use results in a positive relationship.
The thesis contributes to knowledge in the area of travel behaviour dynamics related to BRT through drawing on a suite of datasets to capture three complementary dimensions of behavioural dynamics of BRT passengers. Methodological and theoretical contributions are also rendered in this research, including (1) the proposed geo-visualisation-based method (the flow-comap) to enhance the utility of smart card data for the examination of travel behaviour and (2) a more comprehensive inclusion of behavioural intentions coupled with the considerations of alternative transport to better understand UPT passengers’ attitudinal mechanisms. In the context of the case study, this thesis has some implications for the potential to inform (1) the service provision and infrastructure expansion of BRT to better meet the travel needs of passengers and (2) the design of marketing strategy and soft policy (e.g., information-based approach) to maintain and promote BRT usage.
In conclusion, through a series of empirical investigations, this thesis helps realise the potential of BRT to offer a way in which urban environments can progress towards sustainable UPT systems. It is also hoped that this thesis may stimulate future research in this area that can help inform and guide the implementation of smarter BRT systems.