Why is it that “People really do prefer trams”

Why do travellers prefer trains and light rail to buses?

This article tries to undermine the fact that people really do prefer trams, and implies it is ignorance that they dont prefer buses.  But there are sound reasons why people do.

….”New research confirms what we pretty much already know; travellers generally prefer rail-based modes of public transport to buses. The challenge is to convince them buses are a good choice”

Why is it a challenge? why not recognise trams are a much better system and will attract drivers out of cars, and give the public what they want?

The reason trams are attractive is:

  •  it turns out that trams can offer a higher frequency of service – “turn up and go” – 2 minutes in Budapest. this is due to high first cost but very low running cost (no expensive maintenance of tyres, brakes engine. ( this means it makes little difference to the cost of running services even if they are near empty, because the trams and track have already been paid for, and the drivers have to be employed full time anyway.  This builds confidence and brand loyalty.  Even a few customers means the tram is paying its way.  Buses cannot do this due to much higher running costs, and have to be pruned out of peak hours and have longer service intervals to cram customers together.
  • Trams are reliable and run on time and routes and schedules cannot be continuously changed ( once you have made your investment in pays to run trams continuously),  unlike competing bus services which have to vie for profitability by continuously withdrawing and changing schedules.
  • Lower fares – driver cost is  shared over many more passengers -350) and shorter journey times
  • a short 20 sec  boarding / stop time (large multiple doors, no stairs)
  • a more comfortable environment, no bench seats cramping uses and children next to strangers
  • high prestige, speed through traffic due to green Wave Traffic Priority (Green Wave Traffic Light Priority (latter not generally applicable to buses))