The Case For Including Quality In Travel Time Valuations

This study investigates the value travelers place on qualitative factors such as comfort, convenience, security and reliability, and practical ways to quantify these values for transport planning and project evaluation.

Incorporating Qualitative Factors Into Travel Time Valuation is particularly important for evaluating transit service improvements and Bus Rapid Transit planning. Conventional transport modeling often overlooks these factors and so undervalues service quality improvements. This paper recommends specific travel time value adjustments to account for factors such as waiting area comfort, passenger crowding, travel reliability, and real time transit vehicle arrival information. It describes how service quality improvements can increase transit ridership and reduce automobile travel. It discusses how this information can be applied to transport planning and evaluation.

From the conclusion:

"Under optimal conditions transit travel unit time costs tend to be lower than for automobile travel, particularly if roads are congested, but if transit travel conditions are unpleasant, crowded, unreliable, insecure or stigmatized unit time costs tend to be higher than automobile travel. Under current normal conditions, the walking, waiting and transfer portions of transit trips have relatively high unit costs, but these cost premiums can be reduced by improving conditions. Because people tend to evaluate experiences based on the worst portion of an event, reducing the magnitude and frequency of very uncomfortable conditions can provide particularly large benefits.

Innovations such as real-time vehicle arrival information, more comfortable vehicles and stations, and improved service reliability are valued by transit passengers and often increase ridership. They are sometimes cost effective simply in terms of increased fare revenues. More comprehensive analysis, that takes into account the full benefits to existing riders plus all benefits from mode shifts can justify even more implementation of such strategies. Additional research will be needed to validate the values provided in this report and calibrate them to specific situations."

Thanks to Todd Litman

Full Story: Considering Comfort As Well As Speed: Incorporating Qualitative Factors Into Travel Time Valuation (PDF, 500KB)

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