Tourism and Recreational Bus Services in the Uk
L Lumsdon, University of Central Lancashire; S Rhoden, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
The Purpose of the study
The purpose of the paper is to offer a best practice benchmark study with regard to the design and management of recreational bus services [routes or networks] within the context of the UK. The issue of service provision and quality in public transport has been well documented, for example, in the Quattro Report which indicates a number of key factors that have a potential impact on user perceptions (European Commission, 2000). However, there have been very few studies that have examined the extent which these factors apply to services designed primarily for visitors.
The research design is essentially exploratory. The authors seek to explain the reasons for success in the design and management of tourism bus services from the point of view of those responsible for planning and design of such facilities. The data are collected through twenty depth interviews with practitioners from throughout England, Wales and Scotland. They focus on long standing tourism bus services which have been identified by four experts in the field as offering elements of best practice. The transcripts are analysed and key factors identified through a process of contents analysis and categorisation.
The authors are part way through this process and the study will be completed by mid April, 2004. On the basis of analysis of data collected to date a number of key factors are emerging which might explain the success of the services as measured in terms of level of demand and customer satisfaction. These are a combination of factors-availability and access from nearby sources of population, provision of information, reliability, and personal security, driver competence.
There are a number of planning and management implications from the study which are presented in a final section of the paper. The most important conclusion is that such services need to be designed for tourists who are seeking intrinsic value from the travel, for example, by having the potential to enjoy sightseeing and through some form of interpretation. They have different requirements to those who use buses for utility purposes and design and service provision.
European Commission, (2000). Quality on transportation (Quattro) Study. Brussels, European Commission
Association for European Transport