Scholarly article on topic 'Managing Public Transport Service Operation in Reducing Travel Fear Factor'

Managing Public Transport Service Operation in Reducing Travel Fear Factor Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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{"Bus service characteristics" / punctuality / security / information}

Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Rohana Sham, Nurazlina Samsudin, Khairunnisa Rahman

Abstract A women safety on public transport especially in an urban area is critical. However, less research was conducted in this matter therefore, this research attempts to fill the gap. Data was collected through bus passenger survey in three major urban areas in Penang Island. They were asked to rate their perception on the safety level based on following bus service characteristics; namely punctuality, comfort, security, information and infrastructure design that is currently provided in their areas. Analysis show most women feel insecure when the bus is not punctual, service quality is low, and when less information provided regards to the bus service.

Academic research paper on topic "Managing Public Transport Service Operation in Reducing Travel Fear Factor"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 101 (2013) 338 - 344

AicQoL 2013 Langkawi AMER International Conference on Quality of Life Holiday Villa Beach Resort & Spa, Langkawi, Malaysia, 6-8 April 2013 "Quality of Life in the Built and Natural Environment"

Managing Public Transport Service Operation in Reducing

Travel Fear Factor

Rohana Sham, Nurazlina Samsudin*, Khairunnisa Rahman

_Faculty of Business Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 85000 Segamat, Malaysia_


A women safety on public transport especially in an urban area is critical. However, less research was conducted in this matter therefore, this research attempts to fill the gap. Data was collected through bus passenger survey in three major urban areas in Penang Island. They were asked to rate their perception on the safety level based on following bus service characteristics; namely punctuality, comfort, security, information and infrastructure design that is currently provided in their areas. Analysis show most women feel insecure when the bus is not punctual, service quality is low, and when less information provided regards to the bus service.

© 2013TheAuthors.Published byElsevierLtd.

Selectionand/orpeer-reviewunder responsibilityofthe AssociationofMalaysianEnvironment-Behavior Researchers, AMER(ABRAmalaysia).

Keywords: Bus service characteristics; punctuality; security; information

1. Background of study

Within most urban areas in Malaysia, particularly an Island like Penang, the most sought after mass public transport is more likely to be a public bus system. The public bus can be considered as the lifeline of the state economy as most urban dwellers especially women, who make up a majority of the bluecollar workforce, depend on it to commute, for various purposes from home to the workplace and back. Problems arise when public transportation especially the bus service is not well planned and maintained. Poor infrastructure such as walkways to and from the bus stop, poor design and maintenance of bus stop, the deplorable condition of the buses and the lack of reassuring security measures throughout the entire journey have further put women's lives in danger of criminal victimization. The above mentioned issues

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +0-000-000-0000; Fax: +0-000-000-0000. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the Association of Malaysian Environment-Behavior Researchers, AMER (ABRA malaysia). doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.07.208

have grown in importance in light of high involvement of women in the employment sector. The issues become more critical as this group depends more on public transportation especially the bus service which is deemed not very safe for them.

A recent study by Rohana, Mashita and Suhana (2011) reported many women feel insecure or feel unsafe while walking to and from the bus stop and while waiting at the bus stop. The same scenario happens in urban areas in Penang, where majority of crimes to women happen while they are walking to and from the bus stop, and while they are waiting at the bus stop. So far, there is no sufficient information regarding this type of problem faced by woman travellers in Penang Island. Therefore, this research intends to examine critically the real factors that contribute to travelling safety issues for women while travelling on public transport in Penang Island.

1.1. Research question

• Does punctuality of the public transport service affect the travel fear factor?

• Does comfort of the public transport service affect the travel fear factor?

• Does security of the public transport service affect the travel fear factor?

• Does information of the public transport service affect the travel fear factor?

• Does infrastructure of the public transport service affect the travel fear factor?

2. Review of related literature

Over the years, progress has been made to identify the factors affecting women travelling safety because women are considered as a group who face the highest risk of victimization. As a result, Hanlon (1995) contended that their access to safe and good public transport resources is critical especially to those living in urban areas. This may result from the high numbers of population in urban areas.

Dr. Shipra Narang Suri (2012) a women activis, in her discussion identify that women in Delhi reported that public transport was the most unsafe place for women in the national capital. And they also said that waiting for public transport was equally risky. She also identify that it is not only the various modes of public transport like buses, metro, auto-rickshaws and taxis are not safe but it also associated with the infrastructure such as bus stops and metro stations, pavements and other waiting areas. Therefore she suggests the authorities to improving women's safety, and enhancing their access to travel.

The first serious discussion and analyses of safety issues and the extent of crime within the bus services emerged in the 1970's. A study done by Thrasher and Schnell (1974) was the earliest study in 37 American and four Canadian transport systems. The study revealed that the risk involved in a criminal incident is at least two times greater when riding in most significant transit system than in using other means of private transportation. Being considered as the earliest study measuring the number of crimes within public transit, Thrasher and Schnell (1974) indicated that personal security is an important factor in the decision making for people choosing to utilize public transportation and transit users will be deterred if the system seems to be unsafe. Through a study by Rohana Kamarudin (2012) the customer expectations concern on PT services was safety (34.3%) followed by accessibility, reliability, fares, communication and trip experience.

In one of the few studies that focus on crime at the bus stop locations, Levine and Wachs (1986) examined three bus stop locations where the largest number of crime had occurred. Their findings of a survey in West Central Los Angeles indicated that the factors contributing to crime differed for each bus stop location, suggesting that a specific site analysis is required to determine the individualized security problem. The researchers suggested that each location should be examined separately to determine the cause of the problem so that individualistic or unique countermeasures can be implemented to correct the

situation. Not only that, they also revealed that the police statistics greatly undercounted the number of crime actually related to bus use. A majority of the crime occurred, not on the bus itself but while the victim was waiting or walking to and from the bus stop. They also pointed out that a high percentage of crimes were not reported to police. Furthermore, they agreed that a sizeable proportion of the crime occurred at a limited number of locations where environmental factors contributed to the problem.

Heal and Laycock (1986) further supported the statement by highlighting the need to manage the environment surrounding the bus stop location as they contended that, it is not sufficient to ensure that people are transported from A to B, but it is also essential (and part of the bus service) that they are not assaulted along the way. They further added that the risk of being a crime victim normally started from the point of origin (or starting point of every journey).

Recent evidence has attempted to explain the cases of gropers within the bus services. According to Aloysius (2006), men groping women or rubbing against them while travelling in an overcrowded bus or a metro car is not rare these days in a city. She also reported that up to 70% of all female residents of megalopolises fall victim to perverts roaming on the public transport at least once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, a Russia-based frotteur (gropers) can be brought to justice only in theory. As a rule, a lecher acts discreetly, and therefore he does not stand out in a crowd. Therefore, women in Russia who ride the public transport like buses must cope with the problem herself. Unlike the public transport system in Tokyo city, the authorities allocated separate cars for women to tackle the problem of frottage (gropers). It has conclusively been shown that the safety issues concerning bus services are critical issues that need urgent attention especially when services in urban areas are concerned. This is the reason why Grieco, Pickup and Whipp (1989) contended that besides having to cope with a higher crime rate in an urban area, it is believed that for a public transport to remain competitive in the transport industry, the needs of the passengers especially the dominant users like women must first be addressed.

One of the most significant discussions by Focas (1989) in transportation and safety is that if a woman is to travel safely, then the public transport system must first be geared towards their travel needs. Although much work has been done previously to look at the overall issues, more studies need to be conducted to examine critically the real factors that contribute towards women's travel safely issues in an urban area particularly on the commuters' satisfaction level. Another study by Peters (2002), women are easily be a victims to a crime when they are walking alone early in the morning and late at night between 6:00 am and 12:00 pm. This the critical time of the day since it is the time when people go to and went back from work. The robberies take this situation for granted to rob the women traveller.

Over the past century in Penang Island itself, there has been a dramatic increase in the statistics of crime being recorded. Although the reporting of crime in Penang Island does not reflect that it is a crime related to transport and women travelling by bus services, a report from the Criminal Department Unit (2005) confirmed that a majority of the crimes occur at the boundary of a public transport facility provision such as along the main road as well as while walking and waiting at the bus stop. Even though, the reporting of crimes on the bus was never given much attention, the occurrence is believed to be quite high especially during peak hours.

Among the identified factors that were discussed through the literature review pertaining to the service characteristics and level of safety are factors like punctuality, comfort, security, information and infrastructure design. Even though, a considerable amount of literature on each attribute of service characteristics and the level of safety for women travellers has been published, not all evidence was supported. Several environmental criminologist theories have been adopted in order to proceed with this study. Theories like of Routine Activity by Cohen and Felson (1979), Crime Pattern Theory by Brantingham and Brantingham (1981), and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design by Jefrey (1990) were considered in this study to further tap on the safety issues. The rationale for adopting such theories is to see whether the current scenario facing many Penangnites further supported the theory or

vice versa. This study borrowed the definition of travel safety from White (1986) and Atkins (1989). White (1986) defined travel safety as a state of users feeling safe on a public transport and terminal or bus stop without fear or injury or harassment. As for Atkins (1989), travel safety is referred to as the travelling woman's defensive space with a minimal volume of crime occurrence of fear. Thus, this study proceeded to measure travel safety through the feeling of safety or fear of crime based on extended causal model by Skogan and Klecka (1977) that focuses on the personal attribute and city of residence to analyse the opinion and perception on fear of crime. The following section gives overall discussion on data collection method, analysis of the findings, conclusion and recommendations.

3. Methodology

Data collection was conducted in three main urban areas in Penang Island namely Pulau Tikus, Jelutong and Ayer Itam. A personally administered questionnaire was used in this study through this technique; any doubts can be clarified immediately at that particular point. Moreover, it is also considered as the cheapest and quickest source of data collection as the questionnaire could be collected immediately after they are completed. The question used in this study concerning the women traveller perceptions towards their safety on buses. They were also need to identify the biggest factors to their fears of travel. From the questionnaires also, we will suggest the best solutions to reduce the women traveller fears while travelling with public bus or using any public transport facilities and infrastructure.

The respondent was women who travel by public bus to commute to work; they were asked to rate their current public bus service characteristics in their area according to punctuality, security, information and infrastructure design. Then, they were also asked to rate their feeling of safety travelling in the current condition of the public transport service and infrastructure provision. A correlation and means score analysis were used to analyse the data obtained to identify the relationship between all public transport service factors towards female travel fears. During the bus passenger survey, surveyors were located at the bus stops at respective housing areas (Pulau Tikus, Jelutong and Ayer Itam) in order to get the real respondents who travel by public bus. These activities lasted for 5 hours starting from 6.00am to 11am for 5 days (Monday to Friday) except Saturday and Sunday because they were considered as weekend travel, other than that it was rather difficult to catch them since they were travelling in group and normally avoid from being stop. The main constrain of using this method was the time it took to answer all the questions. Some of the questionnaires could not be completed by the respondent due to the bus arrivals. To overcome that, surveyors were asked to go on board with the respondent in case the questionnaire is not complete. Next is difficult to convince them to respond to the survey since they are rushing to get to work, and some of them were not comfortable to speak to a stranger at the bus stop.

4. Findings

The study found that, punctuality and security are the two most important attributes indicated by the majority of woman commuters in Penang urban areas as factors that affect their level of safety if the attributes fail to satisfy them. Results of the mean score analysis are presented in Table 1. Table 1, show a major factor contributing to a women fear while travelling is a punctuality and security. Second highest contributor was lack of information regards to the bus services. Least factors contributed to women fears are infrastructure and comfort. Observation from the result suggests that there is an urgent need to improve the public transport operation system especially the basic service operation such as punctuality, security, information, infrastructure provision and comfort, to increase the level of safety and satisfaction of a women traveller.

Table 1. Mean score for factors that affect level of safety

Mean score(1-5)* Mode

Service attribute:

Punctuality 2.66 1

Comfort 3.67 5

Security 2.38 1

Information 2.40 2

Infrastructure 3.51 4

*1-Most important 5-Least important

Table 2. Mean score on level of safety while travelling on public transport

Service characteristics Mean Score (1-7)*

Service attribute:

Waiting too long at the bus stop 2.12

The bus fail to come on time 1.72

While in the bus 3.94

Travelling with ample information 5.22

Travelling with current facilities 2.36

*1- Very unsafe 7- Very safe

Table 2 presents the mean score analysis for safety level indication while travelling using public transport. Results show that female commuters indicated a higher level of fear when the buses fail to arrive on time (1.72) and when waiting too long at the bus stop (2.12). However, the response of feeling safe differ when they already 'in the bus' (3.94) and when 'travelling with ample information' (5.22). This indicates that they feel much safer being in the bus and even more 'safe' when they have access to ample information about the services beforehand. Sufficient information of the bus or public transport helps them to plan their travel and be preparing for any possibilities. When respondents were asked to rate their level of safety while travelling with current facilities or infrastructure design, most of them indicated a higher feeling of fear (2.36). The facilities are not well maintained by the responsible parties and the designs itself are not safe to be used by public.

This can be improve by provide the current public transport facilities and infrastructure with safety precaution to reduce the crime while they are using it. To understand the scenario, a correlation analysis was carried out among the transport service attributes and the level of safety. The following observations were obtained.

Table 3 summarizes the correlation analysis of each of the service attributes and the level of safety. The results show that all service attributes have significantly affected women's level of safety while travelling. However, the most critical attributes are punctuality and security. Being alone at the bus stop is not a situation women would prefer. An implication of this result indicate that an improvement in the standard operation of the public bus transport system especially on the management side or known as the supply side is urgently needed. Failure to improve this factor can cause a greater fear among woman travellers especially those living in urban areas that commute to work on a daily basis.

Benefits to the Society:

• Improvement on the transport supply will not only benefit woman, but it will also benefit society as a whole because when women perceive that the public transport is safe, so will the rest of society. Considering when travelling on public transportation environment is now safe for everyone, women will definitely reduce the fear to travel. Not only that, parents now will be more confident to let their children to use the public transport in future.

• The perception of a safe public transportation system especially buses in urban areas, will result in attracting more people especially non-users to consider public transport when commuting to the city centre is concerned. Indirectly, when people are attracted to a safe public transport especially buses; they will shift from using private car to public transport. This in turn, will reduce the congestion level which currently faced in many urban areas. Indirectly, an increase in the usage of public transportation such as buses will increase the profitability of this sector; thereby further improving the standard of the buses and its operations.

• Moreover, to be able to control the standard operation of bus services in an urban area could make a difference in actual and perceived feeling of safety of public.

Table 3. Correlation analysis on service attribute

Correlation coefficient values (r ) Spearman p values

Service attribute:

Punctuality .02 .001**

Comfort .17 .003*

Security .04 .000**

Information .14 .012*

** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level * Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level

5. Conclusion and recommendations

5.1. Conclusion

The crux of this research is the analysis of the relationship between public transport supply and females' personal travel patterns towards the travel safety issues in an urban area. The results from the surveys undertaken show that there are five distinct factors that affect safety attributes. These five attributes need to be addressed adequately by the authorities or the public transportation operators themselves to ensure female consumers feel safer. Failing to do so will see quite possibly an increase in crimes against women who frequently uses public transportation especially buses and a decrease in the total number of female passengers in future. The surveillances also needed to take part in ensuring the safe environment and surrounding for all. Educating the youngsters regarding the safety on public bus would also helps in reducing the crime rate on public bus. As a women traveller themselves, they need to be more careful while waiting for a bus or riding on a public bus. Lack of self awareness might also give a space for a crime to happen. It is better to be prepared rather than be sorry in the future.

The findings in this research project suggest that in general, there are a high number of women who will experience greater fear while travelling on public transport if inadequate planning and management of the overall public transportation infrastructure design is not remedied accordingly to guarantee the safety of the womenfolk in their journey to and from the workplace. Other than that, there is a need to improve the conditions inside the public bus itself to increase the rate of comfort to ride with the public

transport. Accurate information of bus time table will give benefits to the women traveller to plan for their travel, in addition it will reduce the waiting time at the bus stop.

Women travel everyday for various purposes and this number increasing every day. Their safety in public spaces has become more important to the policymakers as well as the society. A good city and a safe, efficient, and reliable public transport would reduce the fears of women to travel in future.

5.2. Recommendation

• Tighter regulation by the authorities such as the Transport Ministry and the Police pertaining to the operational issues of bus services in urban areas. This indirectly will force the transport operators and providers to be more sensitive on the passengers' safety.

• Setting up guideline for standard operating of bus services in urban areas especially stage bus so that the amount of fear while travelling could be reduced to a minimum level. Other than that it would also improve the quality of the bus services provide by transport operators.

• Proper planning of transport infrastructure that takes into account the travelling needs of women especially on the safe environment especially their safety while walking to and from the waiting area such as bus stops.

• Increase the public awareness regarding the safety on the public transportation especially when they travel alone.


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