(City & State)
The transportation system is one of the strategic pillars of an economy. In order to achieve sustainable development, transportation system is of major concern. More cities around the world are developing policies that shift the mode of transport from private to public. For instance, the Australian transportation authority are championing for a public transport system through the improvement of the public infrastructure. It is therefore imperative to study the commuting behavior of residents by bus or train. The study of Sydney public transportation was based on bus and train preferences and how the two fare in relation to choice over private means, punctuality, service, and environmental conservation.
According to OECD (1996), the use of automobiles across different cities in the world adversely affects the economic and environmental aspects of development. Automobiles are associated with negative impacts including lost time and productivity in traffic, pollutant gas emissions, poor air quality leading to respiratory and cardiovascular complications and of course vehicle accidents. Such problems are widely witnessed in cities such as the US and Australia where low-density and sprawling development patterns to far-flanged areas has increased car dependence.
According to improving the quality of urban transport system is the way forward towards improved mobility and addressing the issue of car dependence. A sustainable public transport system will promote environmental conservation and sustainability and reduce global warming concerns attributed to car dependence.
Sydney’s transports system is divided into rail, bus, and ferry. The Airport Link as it is commonly known is a rail service that operates between early in the morning until midnight. They are stationed at the domestic and international terminals. It provides transport services around the city in less than 15 minutes via six stations namely; Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall, Central, Museum, and St James.
Bus transport system covers extensive networks throughout the city. The main bus terminals include Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall, Central Station, Queen Victoria, and Railway Square.
Likewise, ferry transport system is located at the Sydney Ferry. Stations include Circular Quay and Manly.
The history of Sydney’s transportation system has come a long way. In the 1980s cross regional services were affected by lack of cooperation between private operators. Red Arrow cross regional services operated at an interval of half hourly headways. As cooperation between operators in a route failed sustain the system, many died out. Limited stop services with wider stop spacing came in as a measure to speed up journey times. This initiative was unsuccessful given the mixture of services on the same route. It meant that if an all stop- bus turns up passenger had the option of taking it or waiting for a quicker one.
M2 Busway was introduced later Transitway and NW Transitway. Currently, Metrobus offers consistent headways of 10 to 20 minutes all the days of the week until 9PM. The buses are distinctive of its red color with a mixture of regional and radical, cash fares and prepaid and variable stops.
Holmgren, 2008 indicates that the ideal public transport system would be as convenient as private transport and that all public transport systems are driven by demand. According to the author, local transport systems have been declining in countries such as Sweden, Great Britain, and US. This is consequently attributed to some factors.
Numerous research studies evidently conducted on multidisciplinary perspectives have probe on commuting. Most research utilizing aggregate commuting data have focused on metro areas as well as spatial units for general analysis. Crane, 2000 brings a summary of the recent work that utilized neighborhood types. According to Crane, 2000 commuting networks arise in geographical settings out of the changing nature of the preferences among public systems. The relationship between home, place of work and structure of the city is what contributes to the diverse form of transport preference among the public. For instance, historical data sourced from Toronto between 1940s indicate that decentralized services and opportunities reduced the journey to work for residents who resided in urban locations altering their mode of transport preference than those who lived far away.
The journey to work is a multi-dimensional strategy focusing on the daily experiences of commuting between home and the workplace in all the available transport modes. It majorly explains the causes of traffic congestions, accidents, and pollution among others. The weakness exhibited in most journey-to-work trip research lies in the point of analysis. A static approach in the analysis factors where only one point is probed at a specific time. It is important to understand that commuting behavior plays a crucial role in the longevity of the journey. As Black et.al, noted determination of commuting preference of residents is based on historical statistics that depicts how they have changed over time due to factors such as employment distribution, development of transport networks, and urban development. A 15-year old Journey-to work census in Sidney reveals that there has been significant change in the resident preference of the mode of transport.
The research utilizes descriptive statistics and analysis to evaluate the trend of urban transport in Sidney. The study employs the use of statistical data to probe the spatial distribution of preference functions as well as mode of interaction between zones. It also assesses the level of interaction and statistical significance of the results.
The interpreted data signifies that small values of a parameter k are associated with preference for a shorter trip while large absolute values indicate a probability for a longer trip.
An appropriate hypothesis in this study is; Bus transport is the most preferred method of public transport in Sydney. By the end of the study, the hypothesis will be affirmed or rejected as per the results.
SCOPE OF STUDY
The study is concentrated in the Metropolitan area of Sidney. It was conducted in 2003 to examine the various reasons for preferences for certain modes of transport among the transport infrastructure users in Sydney metropolis. The study concentrated on two existing modes of public transportation; train and bus. The modes are subdivided into heavy rail, light rail, bus, and BRT with up to three access modes i.e. walk, bus and car.
The conceptual model forms the foundations of the questionnaire design. The concepts were translated into the questionnaire and every question used to derive degree of relevance from the research tools utilized in the conceptual framework. This includes the following parameters; transport preference, alternatives transportation mechanisms, capability, gender and level of education.
The design of the questionnaire uses the principle concepts employed in the research such as the brand, preference and efficiency. This aids in the gathering of relevant information that is in line with the research question. In addition, the questionnaire is design to be simple, clear, brief and encompassing only the relevant details. notes that the cardinal rule in the design of questionnaires is to keep it brief and relevant as much as possible in addition with giving it a sequential and logical structure so that the respondent can easily identify the relevant parameters requiring responses and follow it until the last stage. Dividing the questionnaire into various parts that require different feedback according to the topics covered is important. The chronological order in which the questions take and the simplicity of answering these questions play a significant role in the filling process. Easy and straight forward questions should appear first followed by medium and finally hard questions. Personal questions are located at the last page together with the recommendations and the views of the respondent.
Purpose of the Questionnaire
The questionnaire has been designed to translate the information needed from the respondents in form of specific questions. Interviews were conducted on a sample of 50 respondents. All the respondents are well known. This was meant to avoid dealing with strangers which might supply biased responses. The known persons are friends, relatives, workmates, and college mates and were requested to fill the questionnaire with the most genuine answers.
The table below depicts a summary of Sydney’s mode of transportation. The table illustrates the approximate travel times and cost of an average person in the city. The main modes of transport include light and heavy rail, bus and private car. Results indicate that the two modes of transport vary according to cost and time.
There is a significant difference in the two modes of transport. Results from the study indicated that the ability to travel from one place to another in reasonable time is most important. This applies to the span of hours when the services are operational. Most services in the three categories commence early in the morning (4.am) and continue till midnight.
Reliability of the services offered is another factor that determined preferences for bus or train transport in the city. Variability in travel times and certainty of interchanges determined which form of transport was more preferable. Train services are offered on a half hourly and hourly basis depending on the destination and the operator. Bus services are available at an interval of between quarters of an hour to 3 hours. Thus, bus services seem more favorable (54%) among Sydney residents. Further, comfort, safety and cleanliness played a role in determining the choice of service to take. Finally, legibility of the network dictated the choice of a certain service. For instance, people choose bus services when they were sure that the service reaches their place of work, school or home. The same applies to trains which were chosen by those establishing link to airports.
Access time was essential for peak time travelers. 58% of the respondents cited their preference for the light rail connecting to existing rail lines because it was accessible after every 6 minutes. 37% preferred existing M2 Busway because it was easily accessible after every 10 minutes. When asked about the punctuality of public transportation, 60% of the respondents without private cars provided a higher score (both for light rail and bus) while those with personal means of transport preferred their means over public means. This is illustrated by the figures in the table above. The car takes a 90 minute in-vehicle travel time, the slowest among all the other forms. In accessing the main mode, the car takes between 1 to 5 minutes compared to the rest. Likewise, getting from the main mode to the destination is faster for cars with a time of 5 minutes compared to heavy rail and existing train lines which takes up to 8 minutes.
Cars were strongly preferred by the public (if possible) because it offers efficient means to get to the destination in less time irrespective of the cost. However when considerations cost were taken into account, it emerged the most expensive means amongst all. Apart from the running cost of the car, other costs include parking and toll fees.
An analysis of the time and cost savings based on peak and off-peak travel times reveal interesting results. Passengers originating from North West and global arc destinations such as Macquarie University, North Sydney, St Leonards and Chatswood will experience time savings in peak and off-peak travel hours using bus services. The savings of up to 40 minutes are more realized for far-flung end of Sydney but may e eaten up for passengers who require to interchange to rail in order to reach their destinations. However, the savings decrease in the off-peak hour due to traffic congestions. Journey to the CBD via bus does not lead to any savings; in fact, in some instances travel time is higher than expected.
Bus fares are generally cheaper than train fares. In peak hours, bus fares trips exceeding 20 km to and from the CBD cost less for bus fares as compared to NWRL. It becomes more expensive when transfers are necessary from bus to train. In the off-peak travel time, trains offer discounts bringing the cost of trains to be lower than the buses but only for those who do not transfer to a bus.
The study revolved around known respondents who were requested to fill the questionnaires. The data collected may be biased given the close relationship with the respondents. In addition, a sample of 50 was too little for the whole population of Sidney. In my view, there was lack of a valid representative sample that stand for the whole population in Sidney.
Notably, it is determined that public transport users are the biggest gainers from public transportation modes such as bus and to a large extent NWRL. Likewise, large travel times are saved especially North West Sydney to “global arc” destinations such as Chatswood, Macquarie University and North Sidney. Though the gains are not as pronounced as expected, it is a positive note towards providing a reliable public transport and decongesting the city. Car users, though they have not recorded a significant shift towards public transport means are still the biggest losers in terms of cost, and sometimes congestion. This may be attributed to the number of interchanges required to get to the CBD. An extension of the current M2 services beyond the current edge of suburban development is expected to offer travel time savings for new residents.
As hypothesized, bus transport is the most prevalent form of public transport in Sydney. Majority of the users prefer a bus ride to the place of work, school or back home. This is as a result of a host of factors including, time savings, cost savings, reliability, variability in travel times, comfort, cleanliness and safety among others. Bus services introduced a single seat configuration in the buses. This seems to attract a lot of travelers against the train service that comprise of one or more interchanges.
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15 Survey Questionnaires – Public Transport Preferences
- What is your age?
□ Under 12 years old
□ 12-17 years old
□ 18-24 years old
□ 25-34 years old
□ 35-44 years old
□ 45-54 years old
□ 55-64 years old
□ 65-74 years old
□ 75 years or older
□ Student + Working
□ Working full time
□ Student only
- Level of education
□ No schooling completed
□ Nursery school to 8th grade
□ Some high school, no diploma
□ High school graduate, diploma or the equivalent (for example: GED)
□ Some college credit, no degree
□ Associate degree
□ Bachelor’s degree
□ Master’s degree
□ Professional degree
□ Doctorate degree
- Do you own a car or access to a car?
- Do you use public transportation today?
- Which public transportation do you prefer to use?
- Why do you prefer bus or train?
- How often do you use public transportation a week?
□ 1 - 3
□ 3 - 5
□ 5 - 7
□ 7 – above
- Do you agree that the current bus and train services are adequate enough?
□ Strongly agree
□ Strongly disagree
- On a scale of 5, how would you rate the punctuality of the public transportation?
- If you had a car or leasing a car, would you still use the public transportation? And why?
□ Yes Why?
- Do you think using public transportation would save the environment?
- Are you happy with the cleanliness of the public transportation?
□ Not happy
- What would you suggest the public transportation service providers to improve their service?