The experiment near-gratis-fare

Date of publication: August 1, 1975

Author: Dieter Franke

Abstract:

To what extent can drivers of private cars be won over to local public transport by cheap fares during the rush hour! Answering this question was the main task of the experiment NEAR-GRATIS-FARE. During the course of nine months, approximately 10.000 commuters in three towns in the Federal State of North-Rhine-Westphalia were able to use the buses and trams for a monthly fare of DM 12 (approx.£ 2.30). At the same time the effects of the cheap ticket were monitored in a comprehensive research programme. The main results were: 13,5% of commuters who had driven to work before the introduction of the NEAR- GRATIS-FARE changed over to going by bus/tram; 5,4% may be regarded as being "genuine converts"; they took advantage of the NEAR-GRATIS-FARE (NGF) regularly. However, as far as the largest part of motorists are concerned - ”non-converts" and reverting back from the NGF - the cheap ticket is not a convincing argument. The desire to be mobile and independent is stronger, the mobility factor not only being motivated by common sense. Accordingly, in view of existing conditions in public transport, the cheap ticket scarcely fulfils any justifiable function in matters pertaining to traffic: it leads by no means to a massive reduction in the amount of individual private cars in favour of local public transport.

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