It is a fact that people who would normally avoid using public transport are happy to use trams. The use of public transport is generally increasing where there are trams.(More information?)
The reasons for this are not well researched but the following features appear to be significant :-
Because the breakdown of a single tram, or the non-availability of a crew, would bring the complete system to a halt, a tramway must be planned to a greater level of reliability than other public transport. The tramway companies now operating in the North and Midlands have trained their office staff to crew the trams in emergency and regular driving practice is mandatory. This also ensures that administrators are regularly brought into contact with the travelling public.
Percieved reliability is enhanced by inflexible routing.
Tram services can be made more frequent than buses for the same number of vehicles because:
Service frequency in Bath?
A tramway is a low running-cost, high capital-cost business; the major financial outgoings are fixed debt servicing and repayment costs . Running costs are a proportionally smaller item and much more competitive fares can be offered.
Tramways are much less susceptible to the running-cost penalty which would discourage a bus service (where overall expenditure was more nearly proportional to passengers carried) from trying to carry larger numbers of passengers at lower fares.
In practice, tram fares are almost always lower than the equivalent bus fares, often 50% or even less. Fares tend to fall as a new system beds-down and initial setting-up costs are recouped.
Buses have a reputation, whether deserved or not, of being the"transport of last resort". A high proportion of passengers on buses have no choice; but as soon as an alternative presents itself, they use that instead.
In places where trams are available, people use them unless there is a good reason not to.
Tram routes are fixed by the location of the track. Far from being the disadvantage which is sometimes implied, the inflexibility of routes works very strongly in favour of a tramway.
The rails give a smooth ride which is far superior to road vehicles, even those with up-to-date suspension technology on first-class roads or busways. Large numbers of standing passengers are permitted in safety which reduces queues during rush hour.
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