A report by the House of Commons Transport Committee in 20031 concluded:
“Failure to provide an efficient public transport system means that employers are faced with staff who are tired, stressed and uncomfortable on arrival at the workplace. Lateness at work, loss of productivity, sickness absence, missed and rescheduled meetings and lost business due to public transport overcrowding and delays all impose real and significant costs . . . Overcrowding on public transport is bad, and is likely to get worse. It must be taken far more seriously than at present.”
In their article ‘Crowding in public transport systems: Effects on users, operation and implications for the estimation of demand,’ Tirachini, Hensher and Rose 2 that crowding is now seen as having a significant influence on modal choice. They state that the reasons go beyond having to stand or share a limited space and can include; perceptions of risk to personal safety and security, increased anxiety, stress and a feeling of exhaustion.
Crowding is related to a high density of passengers which can be quantitatively assessed. The most common measure used is the occupancy rate or load factor, which is defined as the ratio between the actual number of passengers inside vehicles and the number of seats. The load factor can also be measured using the nominal capacity of a vehicle (including both seating and standing). A load factor of 150%, relative to the seating capacity, indicates that one out of three passengers is standing. Tirachini, Hensher and Rose suggest that if the load factor is over 80%, a vehicle can be regarded as crowded. The load factor on the trolleybus, assuming that just 60 of the 160 passengers will be seated, is 267%.
The degree of crowding suffered by those standing is measured by the standing density. This is calculated by dividing the number of standing passengers by the available floorspace.
The Mercedes Benz Citaro G3 is an articulated bus of similar dimensions and carrying capacity to the one proposed by NGT in their Spring 2013 promotional leaflet. It is approximately 18 metres long and 2.5 metres wide. It is capable of carrying 158 passengers, with 47 seated and 111 standing. It has a cross sectional area of approximately 45.7 square metres. About 32% of this or 14.6 square metres is available for standing passengers. The bus can carry 158 passengers, with 47 seated and 111 standing. The 14.6 square metres available to the standing passengers means that there are 7.6 standing passengers per square metre. In Europe, a standing density of 4 passengers per square metre is considered to indicate crowding. (International Association of Public Transport 2009 as reported by Li and Hensher2012)49. Tirachini, Hensher and Rose suggest that a standing density of 4 or 5 passengers per square metre is a very likely indicator of crowding discomfort.
Tirachini, Hensher and Rose 2013 point out that some people prefer to let a crowded bus or train pass, and wait for the next one, rather than board it and have to stand in a crowded environment, and that this increases waiting times, and may cause prospective passengers to choose another service or route.
With overcrowding a disincentive to the use of public transport, will those who currently drive from Otley and Bramhope into Leeds city centre, want to leave their cars at the proposed Bodington park ride, to stand on a bendybus?