Commuters’ Behavior towards Upgraded Bus Services in Greater Beirut: Role of Itinerary and Implications for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Social Welfare and Transport Policy | Ifi Working Paper
Working Paper | February 2015
Commuters’ Behavior towards Upgraded Bus Services in Greater Beirut: Role of Itinerary and Implications for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Social Welfare and Transport Policy by Ali Chalak, Hani Al-Naghi, Alexandra Irani, and Maya Abou-Zeid
Climate change is one of the most critical environmental challenges facing the world today. The transportation sector alone contributes to 22% of carbon emissions, of which 80% are contributed by road transportation. In this paper, we investigate the potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and social welfare gains resulting from upgrading the bus service in the Greater Beirut Area. To this end, a stated preference (SP) survey on mode switching from private car to bus was conducted in this area and analyzed by means of a mixed logit model. We then used the model outputs to simulate aggregate switching behavior in the studied area and the attendant welfare and environmental gains and GHG emissions reductions under various alternative scenarios of bus service upgrades. We recommend a bundle of realistic bus service improvements in the short term that will result in a reasonable shift to buses and measurable reduction in vehicular emissions. We argue that such improvements will need to be comprehensive in scope and include both improvements in bus level of service attributes (access/egress time, headway, in-vehicle travel time, and number of transfers) and the provision of amenities, including air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. Moreover, such a service needs to be cheaply priced to achieve reasonably high levels of switching behavior and positive welfare gains. A fare of LBP 1,000 (around $0.67) would trigger 44% of commuters to switch to bus for commuting, resulting in $24 million of welfare gains and a reduction in GHG emissions of 35,000, tCO2 e/year (32% of car commuting emission). Though the emissions reductions projected by the study may seem modest (2.2% of transport, and 0.43% of overall GHG emissions), they probably under-estimate potential emissions reductions from upgrading public transport systems in that area and in Lebanon in general. With a comprehensively overhauled bus service, one would expect that bus ridership would increase for commuting purposes at first, and once the habit for it is formed, for travel purposes other than commuting, hence dramatically broadening the scope of GHG emissions reduction. This said, this study demonstrates the limits of focused sectorial policies in targeting and reducing GHG emissions, and highlights the need for combining behavioral interventions with other measures, most notably technological innovations, in order for the contribution of this sector to GHG emissions mitigation to be sizable.