Assessment Of Urban Bus Services

Project and Seminar Material for Urban and Regional Planning

Assessment Of Urban Bus Services


Transportation plays a vital role in the economic and socio-cultural development of any nation. Its cost is a significant variable in the market price of any commodity. Transport needs of major cities in Nigeria now present significant challenges for policy makers as unpredictable shifts in population dynamics in response to the need for employment, housing, and sustenance continues. The expansion of the cities in Nigeria, coupled with increasing urban population, results in greater demand for transport provision. This demand has, however, not always been met, and efforts to provide adequate transport service in the cities, are uncoordinated, and poor (Aderamo 2008).This study sought to assess the performance of State Transport Agencies using technical and customer satisfaction parameter with a view to identifying problems and making recommendations. Data was collected from 216 respondents in Minna metropolis.

The respondents rated their agreement with 9 attribute-related statements regarding public transport services .Performance indicators were also assessed based on the parameters in the Public Transit research institute manual and previous research conducted in this field. The result indicate that over all, the transit service performed poorly with a below average score of 5.2 as against an acceptable score of 6.0.The result also shows that only two attributes had an unsatisfactory average score, because the users assign them a mean score rate lower than the sufficiency measure of 6.0. The attributes include availability of shelter at stops and bus crowdedness attribute. The attributes with the highest satisfaction mean scores are safety, bus maintenance and cleanliness. Regarding the variability of user satisfaction, the judgments on perceived quality were not very homogeneous.

Table of Contents

  • Title Page
  • Cover page
  • Dedication page
  • Certification page
  • Acknowledge page
  • Table of content
  • List of Table
  • List of Figures
  • List of Plates

Chapter One

Background to the Study

  • 1.0 Introduction
  • 1.1 Statement of Research Problem
  • 1.2 Research Questions
  • 1.3 Aim
  • 1.4 Objectives
  • 1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
  • 1.6 Structure of the thesis

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.0 Introductions
  • 2.1 user satisfaction definition
  • 2.2 Transit performance point of view
  • 2.3 Transit performance perspective
  • 2.4 Transit performance approach
  • 2.5 sourcing performance data and standards
  • 2.6 Transit performance indicators
  • 2.6.1 Service frequency
  • 2.6.2 Service Reliability
  • 2.6.3 Comfort
  • 2.6.4 Cleanliness
  • 2.6.5 Safety and security
  • 2.6.6 Fare
  • 2.6.7 Information
  • 2.6.8 Customer care
  • 2.7 Customer Satisfaction in Transportation Context
  • 2.8 Studies regarding satisfaction in Public Bus Transport
  • 2.9 Recent Studies on Performance Assessment Measures
  • 2.10 The Concept of urban mass transit
  • 2.11 Advantage of urban mass transport
  • 2.12 Urban mass transit situation in Nigeria
  • 2.13 Performance evaluation of the urban mass transit
  • 2.14 Historical Background of the Niger State urban mass transit
  • 2.15 Objectives of the Urban Mass Transit Program
  • 2.16 Operating Characteristics of Niger State urban mass transit
  • 2.17 Routes operated by the N.S.T.A
  • 2.18 The Organizational. Structure of the N.S.T.A
  • 2.19 Other Services offered by the Niger state Transport Authority
  • 2.20 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) A Solution to Urban Mass Transit Problems
  • 2.21 BRT System Performance around the globe
  • 2.22 Travel time and speed
  • 2.23 Reliability
  • 2.24 Image and Identity
  • 2.25 Safety and Security
  • 2.26 Capacity

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Data required and sources
  • 3.3 sample frame and size
  • 3.3 Data collection procedure
  • 3.31 procedures
  • 3.4 Method of data analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Research Findings

  • Introduction
  • 4.1 Performance of NSTA by Service Attributes
  • 4.11 Service Frequency
  • 4.12 Service reliability
  • 4.13 Bus Crowding
  • 4.14 Availability of Shelter at bus stops
  • 4.15 Cleanliness of Bus
  • 4.16 Safety Performance
  • 4.17 Personnel Helpfulness
  • 4.18 Bus Maintenance
  • 4.19 Cumulative user Satisfaction results of NSTA services
  • 4.28 Performance ranking of routes by technical assessment
  • 4.3 Determinants of Service Performance
  • 4.31 Service Frequency
  • 4.32 Service Reliability
  • 4.33 Bus crowding
  • 4.34 Bus stop Shelter
  • 4.35 Cleanliness of Buses
  • 4.36 Transit Safety
  • 4.37 Personnel Flelpfulness
  • 4.38 Bus Maintenance

Chapter Five


  • 5.10 Summary of Findings
  • 5.20 Recommendations
  • 5.2.1 Service Frequency
  • 5.2.2 Service Reliability
  • 5.2.3 Bus Crowding
  • 5.2.4 Availability of Shelter at Stops
  • 5.2.5 Cleanliness of Bus
  • 5.2.6 Transit Safety
  • 5.2.7 Personnel Helpfulness
  • 5.2.8 Bus Maintenance
  • 5.30 Future Research
  • Reference.

List of Tables

  • Table 2.1 Survey Types
  • Table 2.2 Focus On Performance Assessment Measures
  • Table: 3.1 Data requirement, description and sources
  • Table 3.2 Wards and details
  • Table 3.3 Household questionnaire administration
  • Table 3.4 Parameters observed under physical survey
  • Table 4.1 service frequency performance measure
  • Table 4.2 user satisfaction with service frequency
  • Table 4.3 Total journey time in minutes
  • Table 4.4 user satisfaction with service reliability
  • Table 4.5: Bus crowding
  • Table 4.6 user satisfaction with bus crowding
  • Table 4.7 Distribution of bus stop shelter
  • Table 4.8 user satisfaction with bus stop shelter
  • Table 4.9 cleanliness check
  • Table 4.11 user satisfaction with bus cleanliness
  • Table 4.12 safety check
  • Table 4.13 user satisfaction with bus safety
  • Table 4.14 Personnel check
  • Table 4.15 user satisfaction with personnel service
  • Table 4.16 Bus check
  • Table 4.17 user satisfaction with bus maintenance
  • Table 4.18 User Satisfaction Rating of the N.S.T.A Service
  • Table 4.8 dwelling time at the bus stop

List of Figures

  • Fig 1: Route Percentage Contribution
  • Fig: 2 Satisfaction level
  • Fig. 3 Bus crowdedness ranking
  • Fig. 4: Bus stop shelter ranking
  • Fig.5: Safely ranking
  • Fig. 6 Bus maintenance ranking
  • Fig. 7 Satisfaction level
  • Fig. 8 Cumulative performance of routes
  • Fig.9 Routes used by the N.S.T.A
  • Fig. 11 physical location of wards in Minna metropolis

List of Plates

  • Plate: 1 Bus Crowdedness
  • Plate: 2 Broken Strap Hangers Onboard
  • Plate: 3 Damaged Seat Onboard
  • Plate; 4 Excessive Dwelling Last Slop.
  • Plate: 5 Shelter Without Passenger Information Bosso Route (Mobile Stop)
  • Plate: 6 Worn-Out Pole Flag (Mobile Bus Stop)
  • Plate: 7 Stop Located From the Road (Chanchaga Route)

Chapter One

Background to the Study

1.0 Introduction

Due to the inadequacy of the various modes of public transportation in virtually all the urban centers in the country, the Urban Mass Transit Programme was established in 1988 as the government response to mobility challenges (Filani, 1991).In line with the objectives of the programme, was the need to mobilize state governments in the Federation to set up mass transit agencies to help combat the urban mobility problem. Overtime, several states owned transport agencies have been established across the country. The objective of the Urban Mass Transit Programme was to modernize the nations urban mass transit system ,to alleviate the problem of urban commuting and to lay the foundation for organized mass transit in Nigeria(Report of the urban mass transit taskforce, 1988).According to Bolade (1980),the urban transport system before 1988 had some deficiencies ,which included general inadequacy of supply relative to demand ,disorganized private operators of Para-transit transport ,defective public owned transport companies in the few cities where they existed ,traffic congestion and defective traffic management in bigger cities.

Mass transit by definition connotes a high capacity means and mode of transporting large number of people within a given network, with relatively short –term headways and reasonable turnaround time .Broadly speaking, mass transit entails rapid rail system, light rail system, tramways and monorails, bus system and where feasible water transport system .However, the bus system is the most commonly used in Nigeria, perhaps because of its flexibility and low investment cost. Generally, state urban mass transit Authorities are far from achieving their stated objectives of providing quality and affordable transport service for the urban majority in Nigeria. Their performance presents a picture of gross mismanagement and inefficiency. Their financial performance is also poor while private investors continue to increase their fleet of buses, taxes and aircraft (Ogunsnaya, 1989:29). Transport demand has continued to increase beyond the capacity of the programme due to the ever increasing population in the Nigerian urban centers .State urban mass transit programme have also been characterized by inadequate and insufficient service delivery. They have been generally mismanaged and politicized .The level of service is unsatisfactory and passengers still experience discomfort due to overcrowding, long waiting time, high cost of intra city mobility, and the preponderance of the use of motor cycles as a mode of urban passenger transport among others (Ogunsanya, 1995).

The performance of state owned Transport Agencies, may be assessed using standard evaluation criteria. That is, Operational performance could be evaluated using such measures as fleet utilization rate, passenger volumes, staff-bus ratio, vehicle kilometers, accident rates, and breakdowns in service. The standard of services could also be assessed by employing such measures as passenger waiting time, passenger journey times, service affordability and walking distance to bus stop. Similarly variables such as the revenue-cost ratio, and cost-per passenger kilometers could be used in assessing financial performance. Behind these assessment is the need to learn lessons that can pave way towards improving the operations of mass transit in order to satisfy the mobility needs of the people is all the time pertinent. This relates to the provision and sustenance of effective services and the planning of public transport operations. Transportation plays a vital role in the economic and socio-cultural development of any nation. Its cost is one of the most significant variables in the market price of any commodity.

1.1 Statement of Research Problem

The mandate of the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) established in 1988 is to provide intra-city, inter-city and inter-state transport services. The objective is to ease transportation within urban areas and between rural villages by providing easy, convenient, cheap and reliable transport service to commuters .Overtime, there have been indicators suggesting poor performance of the Agency ,but this requires validation and explanation .For instance ,service schedules of the Agency appear to be seldom followed, fleet utilization rates are declining , waiting times are long and there is lack of responsiveness in the face of growing competition with private and paratransit operators. There has also been a growing concern that buses are simply ineffective to meet daily travel needs.
Many studies of State owned transport agencies are instructive but have shortcomings by failing to relate performance with satisfaction. That is, in the majority of cases, the two issues are treated independent of one another as seen in the works of Ademo (2004),Zainab (2009), Kato (1997) and Adamu (2011) where emphasis is tilted heavily on operational and financial matters. The limited knowledge on mass transit bus performance from both technical and user perception point of view is what calls for new approach to assessment with expanded scope and method. The use of this approach is demonstrated in this research as the contribution to knowledge. The underlying assumption being that there is a direct link between actual service delivery and customer perceptions of services. As observed by Beirao and Sarsfield Cabral (2007), to increase public transport use, the service should be designed and performed in a way that accommodates the levels of services required by customers. That is, to meet potential and present customer requirements, quality investments that really raise the perceived service performance regarding these attributes constitute an important issue.

1.2 Research Questions

  1. What is the performance of the N.S.T.A?
  2. What is the explanation of the performance?

1.3 Aim

The aim of this study is to assess the performance of the Niger State Transport Authority (N.S.T.A) using technical and customer perception parameter with a view to identifying problems and making recommendations.

1.4 Objectives

  1. To review the indicators and approaches to the performance measurement of transport service Agencies.
  2. To review the operational characteristics of the Niger State Transport Authority.
  3. To assess the performance of the Niger State Transport Authority.
  4. To provide explanations for the performance and make recommendations.

1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study focus on the urban bus transport services and is limited to the intra city bus transit system of the Niger State Transport Agency. Its primary focus is on how well service is provided to customers by the NSTA, and how customers perceptions of transit service relates to the existing performance. It focuses only on the intra-city routes plied by the Agency and excludes the intra state, interstate or special services rendered to schools such as federal university of technology Minna and freight services.

1.6 Structure of the Thesis

The Initial section consists of background to the research area, overview about Niger state Transport Authority condition, objective, scope and structure of the thesis. The second section presents related studies regarding customer need and satisfaction in public transport area. The third section presents the research method, respondents, questionnaire, procedure and method of data analysis. The fourth section present result from the statistical analysis. The fifth section present discussion and conclusions drawn from this work, a summary of the contributions, study limitations and a prospect of future research.

Chapter Five


5.10 Summary of Findings

The overall perception of users to the operation of The Niger State Mass transit shows that services provided by the intra-urban mass transit operators are poor and inefficient. Some service attribute were rated lower than others such as crowdedness and availability of shelter that got very poor rating from respondents. Safety and bus maintenance were rated highly suggesting that users feel safe onboard the buses even though, observation shows that the situation on ground is not what it ought to be. Overall however the services received a poor performance rating implying that the expectations of users are not been met. Apparently, the demand on the transit system outweighs the capacity of existing transport facilities. To upgrade and acquire the much needed facility for effective operation is a major problem occasioned by the limited income of the transit operators. However, efficient and effective transport system is critical for sustainable development of the agency and in other to persuade potential users. One of the challenges of this study has to do with the attitude of the agency staffs who were always trying to withhold information by treating any question with suspicion. Another challenge is the absence of operational records that would have allowed for comparison and trend establishment so as to know the direction of progress.

Table 4.10 Summaries of results

Service Attributes Findings points Recommendations
Service frequencyFair performance6.4Provision of more buses
Service reliabilityGood performance7.1Pre-boarding fare payment substituted for onboard payment
Bus crowdingPoor performance5.9Standing passenger level be restricted to the number of strap hangers in the vehicles
 Bus stop shelterPoor performance3.7Shelters and benches should be provided at stops to provide protection from sun and rain
Cleanliness of busGood performance7.15At least two trash bin should be made available onboard both at the front and behind the bus
 Transit safetyGood performance8.21Safety and occupational health and safety laws and regulation be applied within the N.S.T.A transit service
Personnel helpfulnessGood performance7.6Operators must provide the medium for customer who has complaints to convey their complaint


Bus maintenanceGood performance8.1Regular     maintenance    service     and     inspection

program for all buses used to provide services

OverallPoor performance5.2Adopt bus rapid transit

5.20 Recommendations

Based on the observations discussed above, specific problems were identified that are responsible for the poor service associated with the N.S.T.A. The recommended actions are targeted at each major problem. In combination, these actions can produce significant improvements in the transit service experienced.

5.2.1 Service Frequency

The agency operators need to partner with the state administration in the provision of more buses for intra-city transport services so as to increase bus service frequency and reduce passenger waiting time. In the mean time schedule adherence should be encouraged to discourage the excessive dwelling time in the routes so as to allow the vehicle go more runs. The transit operators should exert Effort into the repair of the vehicles that are broken down to reduce the long headway to a bearable minimum.

5.2.2 Service Reliability

The long dwell times at some bus stops due to large waiting passengers create significant Delays for bus riders already on board when the bus stops. Buses spend between 56 and 65 seconds at these stops compared with 15 to 35 seconds at other stops. The current Pre-boarding fare payment at bus stops which implies passengers paying their fares before boarding the bus should be substituted for onboard payment. When a bus arrives, passengers can board much more quickly because they do not need to stop at the onboard fare box. Passengers should be allowed to board through both the rear and front doors of the bus, which would also speed up boarding. Dwell times will be reduced very substantially. When pre-boarding fare payment is no more operational, customers will line up and board in the usual manner and pay fares on the bus. Based on observations of the time spent for pre-board fare payment, it is estimated that onboarding fare payment would reduce the time that the bus spends at these locations to 15 to 35 seconds, comparable to the time spent at most other bus stops on the route. Also the drivers should be made to understand the importance of meeting up with schedule time by operating the buses according to the schedule of operation plan and to also put a stop to the unnecessary time spent at the last bus stops in the routes irrespective of the passengers onboard. Once this is done the bus would spend only 15 to 35 seconds at the stop, comparable to the time spent at most other busy stops. In the future however the agency might want to solve the problem of traffic congestion and dwelling resulting from drivers’ indiscipline by changing into transit system that uses exclusive right of way lanes.

5.2.3 Bus Crowding

Comfort is a huge passenger priority and, as a result, basic standards for bus passenger comfort must be established and monitored by the N.S.T.A to ensure that the operators abide by them. The number of passengers that the buses are supposed to carry is based on the number of seats on the buses. Therefore it is important that the transit operators put a stop to overcrowding. The drivers should be made to understand that when there is not enough room to provide a seating place for each passenger, the bus becomes overcrowded. In the mean time in the absence of adequate number of buses, the standing passenger level could be restricted to the number of strap hangers in the vehicles to allow for more passengers on board without necessarily causing discomfort to seated passengers.

5.2.4 Availability of Shelter at Stops

Shelters and benches should be provided at bus stops to provide protection from sun and rain for waiting passengers. Bus Stop Shelter should be equipped with the seat for passenger who will be waiting for the arriving bus. The agency should provide information for all routes inside the bus stop including customer service number. A well covered trash bin should also be placed within easy reach of the passenger and in the locked condition so that it cannot be moved in order to dissuade littering.

5.2.5 Cleanliness of Bus

The operators should implement a cleaning program that ensures buses are cleaned on a regular basis. The cleaning program must include, at a minimum frequent general cleaning and at least once every seven days of detailed cleaning as opposed to the once every month . At least two Trash bin should be made available onboard both at the front and behind the bus. Information should be provided targeting the users to dissuade them from littering .There should be nomination of persons in positions responsible for monitoring the conduct of cleaning of vehicles. A cautious effort should be made to disinfect the seats, seat covers, handrail, and any device or equipment that comes in direct contact with the human body at least once every week.

5.2.6 Transit Safety

Best practices must be adopted in terms of Service Standard for the training of bus drivers as regards user safety. The Operators must ensure that drivers are trained in relevant public safety and occupational health and safety laws and regulations applied within the N.S.T.A transit service. They must also ensure that drivers are trained to manage any incident capable of causing the death or bodily injury to a person. The drivers should be made aware of their responsibilities under the regulations. They must ensure the fire extinguishers are available onboard.

5.2.7 Personnel Helpfulness

The personnel of the agency need to be given orientation on the importance of wearing the uniform so as to make it easy for passengers to identify them and consequently encourage responsiveness on the part of the staffs .The N.S.T.A operators must provide the medium for customer who has complaints to convey their complaint easily. They should provide customer service call number which can be viewed inside the bus, in the bus stop or other places around the terminal where passengers can have easy access . There should be staffs and users monitoring to assess the quality of service and to identify areas for improvement .The agency operators should Compare the performance of the agency to that of other organizations and aim for the highest standards. They should record expressions of dissatisfaction and introduce improvements to the services where appropriate. Service operators must make information on fares, timetables and route maps widely available to the public on a continuous basis including information concerning the disturbance in the bus service as a result of any improvement or upgrade.

5.2.8 Bus Maintenance

The N.S.T.A operators must implement a regular maintenance service and inspection program for all buses used to provide services. They should ensure compliance with the vehicles manufacturers’ standards for the buses. The program should include ensuring appropriate facilities are available for the service, repair and maintenance of buses. They should also ensure that the people undertaking the servicing, maintenance and repairs of buses are appropriately trained and have a trade certificate or license for the work they are performing .

5.30 General Recommendation

The foregoing indicates that there is an urgent need to make improvements in public transport to address the different service attributes that contribute to the performance. Wright (2004) asserts that BRT attempts to address each of the above-identified deficiencies in current services by providing a rapid, high quality, safe and secure transit option.BRT as a mass transit system using exclusive right of way lanes is a flexible, high performance rapid transit mode that combines a variety of physical, operating and system elements into a permanently integrated system with a quality image and unique identity .BRT system performance can be assessed based on the experience of at least 40 systems across the United States and the world. The experience suggests that there are concrete improvements to travel time, reliability, and capacity as well as perceptions of improvements in safety and security and image and

5.31 Travel Time and Speed.

With regard to total BRT travel times, BRT projects with more exclusive running ways generally experienced the greatest travel time savings compared to the local bus route. Exclusive transit way projects operated at speeds (including stops) between 32 and 48 kilometres per hour (i.e., a travel time rate between 1 to 2 minutes per kilometre), with even higher speeds demonstrated along the portions of the routes in exclusive sections. Arterial BRT projects in mixed-flow traffic or designated lanes operated at between 19 and 29 kilometres per hour (i.e., between 2 and 3.5 minutes per kilometre). Demonstration of low dwell times per passenger is most evident where there are high passenger loads, pre-paid fare collection systems, and all-door level boarding .

5.32 Reliability

Performance in reliability also demonstrated a similar pattern as travel times. As expected, systems with more exclusive transit ways demonstrated the most reliability and the least schedule variability and bunching. The ability to track reliability changes has been limited by the fact that most transit agencies do not regularly measure this performance attribute. New automated vehicle location systems may, however, allow for the objective and conclusive measurement of reliability.

5.33 Image and Identity

Most BRT systems in the United States and internationally are successfully marketed as distinct brands of service through a combination of high quality service attributes and explicit use of branding devices. Performance in achieving a distinct brand identity for BRT has been measured by in-depth passenger surveys. The more successful BRT systems have been able to achieve a distinct identity and position in the respective regions family of transit services.

BRT passengers generally had higher customer satisfaction and rated service quality higher for BRT systems than for their parallel local transit services .

5.34 Safety and Security

Data measuring the difference in safety and security of BRT systems as compared with the rest of the respective regions transit system are rarely collected. Therefore drawing conclusions about the ability of BRT elements in promoting safety and security is premature. Data from Pittsburgh, however, suggest that BRT operations on exclusive transit ways have significantly fewer accidents per unit (vehicle mile or vehicle hour) of service than conventional local transit operations in mixed traffic. Customer perceptions of “personal safety” or security reveal that customers perceive BRT systems to be safer than the rest of the transit system. 5.35 Capacity

For virtually all BRT systems implemented in the United States, capacity has not been an issue. To date, none of them have been operated at their maximum capacity. On all systems, there is significant room to expand operated capacity by operating larger vehicles, higher frequencies, or both. International cases, especially in Latin America and Asia, demonstrate abilities to host significant loads of passengers with faster travel times and reliability (Diaz et al, 2004; Diaz, 2009).

5.4 Future Research

The result of this study demonstrated that there are other factors that influence customer satisfaction judgment. In future research, it is important to investigate the importance users attach to the consistency of service rather than the quality of it. It will also be of importance to the service operators to investigate what constitute satisfaction for users of the service. In-depth interviews and brain storming that involves higher number respondent could help to create more relevant customer satisfaction measurement.

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