Reducing public transport fares is not an effective measure to encourage people to use public transport instead of the car more often. This is the conclusion of researchers from the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy (KiM) in the report 'Effects of fare reductions in public transport'. Cheaper public transport mainly leads to extra mobility because people travel more. Rate reductions also mean that people cycle and walk less.
With a flat reduction in fares, in which public transport fares fall for everyone and at all times, more than three-quarters of the increase in public transport use can be attributed to journeys that are not yet being made, according to the KiM research. This share can be even higher if tariff reductions only apply at certain times or for certain target groups.
There is only a limited shift from car to public transport use. With a flat rate decrease, approximately 18% of the increase in public transport mobility would come from journeys that would otherwise be made by car. About 5% was first covered by bicycle or on foot.
Because car use in the Netherlands is much greater than public transport use, the effects of price reductions in public transport on car use are relatively much smaller. If public transport use increases by 1% due to a reduction in fares, car use decreases by only 0,03%. A strong growth in public transport use can also lead to other effects for public transport users, such as a reduced chance of getting a seat. As a result, existing public transport travelers can look for an alternative mode of transport.
There are all kinds of situations in which public transport is not an alternative to the car. In non-urban areas, the public transport offer is more limited than in urban areas, as a result of which the journey by public transport often takes much longer than a car journey. Public transport is often not available at all in non-urban areas at night. Public transport, on the other hand, often offers an alternative for car journeys within or between highly urbanized areas. The travel time by public transport is often competitive with that of the car.
For a shift from car to public transport use, a combination of measures is more effective than simply lowering public transport fares. By making car use less attractive and public transport more attractive at the same time, the effect on car use is expected to be greater. Measures to make car use less attractive include higher parking fees. In addition to tariff reductions, a wider range and higher quality also contribute to more attractive public transport.