Friday, June 15, 2012

Are commuters happy about public transport?

Commuters can be quite vocal about public transport in Singapore. For example, Occupy Bishan MRT, a Facebook group, was set up for people to discuss (or mostly complain about) public transport issues.

While such groups help people let off some steam, they can also feedback to official channels through the Land Transport Authority's annual Public Transportation Customer Survey. The survey asks commuters if they were satisfied with eight bus and train attributes, a simple “yes” or “no” question.

The survey is hence a barometer of satisfaction levels. For example, 60% of commuters were satisfied with how long they had to wait for a bus in 2009. This proportion dropped to 56% in 2011, and hence more people have become unhappy about the wait. Have satisfaction levels fallen for other attributes too?

The chart below depicts the percentage of commuters who were satisfied for each bus attribute. If more were satisfied with an attribute, its dot would be closer to outer “100%” ring. For example, 79% of commuters were satisfied with bus service reliability in 2009 (the red dot), but this dropped to 74% in 2011 (the blue dot), and the dot moved inwards.

Bus service reliability wasn’t the only attribute that fell – satisfaction levels for everything dropped between 2009 and 2011. This is because the red ring which represents 2009 satisfaction levels completely encircles the blue ring which depicts 2011 levels (the closer you are to the center the more people are dissatisfied). Commuters are increasingly unhappy about comfort levels, waiting and travelling times, bus reliability, or in a nutshell, everything!

Another interesting thing is that overall satisfaction scores seem to be too high. One would expect it to be some average of individual scores, but it exceeds them in both years. For example, satisfaction scores ranged from 56.3% to 86.8% for specific attributes, but when asked about overall services 87.1% of commuters were satisfied.

Hence commuters are happier about buses as a whole than they are about each individual attribute. Why might this be the case? Perhaps other important attributes like transport fares were neglected in the survey. Or maybe taken together, the whole service is greater than the sum of its parts.

Lastly, the scores for train services are shown below. Similar to buses, satisfaction levels have mostly dropped, although not across the board. Also, overall satisfaction levels remain higher than individual attribute levels.

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