Increasing public transport patronage – An analysis of planning principles and public transport governance in Swedish regions with the highest growth in ridership

Jamil Khan, Robert Hrelja and Fredrik Pettersson-Löfstedt, ScienceDirect January 2021

Increasing the attractiveness of public transport is a key issue in the endeavours towards more sustainable transport systems. While there is a lot of knowledge on what can be done to increase public transport patronage, there is a lack of empirically based research analysing how to do this in practice. Using a comparative case analysis of six regions in Sweden with the highest increase in passenger volumes for public transport between 2009 and 2015, this paper examines the prerequisites for increasing public transport patronage, with a focus on the governance conditions required to implement such measures. The empirical material consists of semi-structured interviews with public transport planners and strategy documents for the six regions. The findings show that all regions but one employed a similar approach and implemented measures aimed at concentrating resources to corridors where the potential demand was the greatest. Only one region chose a different approach by investing in services in both strong routes and in the peripheral network. However, regardless of approach, the results highlight that there is considerable coherence regarding the governance conditions that enable implementation. Three main conditions were identified, namely political support, well-functioning collaboration between organisations, and public support through citizen dialogue. The results support key findings on collaborative conditions from previous research, including the importance of joint objectives, trust between key individuals, and the need for long time frames in order to develop collaborative capacity.

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