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Automated bus services – To whom are they appealing in their early stages?

Fonzone, Achille; Fountas, Grigorios; Downey, Lucy



Amidst a period of operational and financial challenges for the bus industry, the advent of Automated Buses (ABs) could be an opportunity to boost the attractiveness of public transport. This paper examines the determinants of changes in bus use after automated buses have been deployed. Given that any impact of automation on bus use is highly subject to the public acceptance of ABs, we also investigate the determinants of eagerness to use ABs. As part of the CAVForth project, which aims to deploy the first AB pilot service in the UK, an online questionnaire was completed by 1,054 bus passengers in Scotland who were asked about their attitudes and expectations towards ABs operating with a trained human safety driver onboard. To identify the factors that shape expectations about ABs and future bus use, random parameter ordered probit and binary logit models with heterogeneity in the means were estimated. The results suggest a high prevalence of people who would be eager to use ABs, and a slight prevalence of people who intend to use buses more often because of automation. Five major categories of factors were identified as influential including exposure to AVs, system evaluation, travel behaviour and attitudes, personality, and socio-demographic profile of the potential users. Factors relating to current bus use, satisfaction, and car dependency induced mixed effect on respondents’ expectations. Our findings are relevant for service providers and can inform the development of policies aimed at operational issues that could potentially impede the deployment of ABs and the recovery of the bus industry, especially in the fragile aftermath of COVID-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2023
Publication Date 2024-01
Deposit Date Sep 18, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 11, 2023
Print ISSN 2214-367X
Electronic ISSN 2214-3688
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Article Number 100647
Keywords Public Transport, Automated Buses, Public Acceptance, Perceptions about technology, Unobserved Heterogeneity, Random Parameters
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