Public Transport Demand and Revenues in Athens: the Introduction of Metro and New Tariff Instruments
A Deloukas, Attiko Metro, GR
Public Transport demand experienced a historical decline in Athens in the last 40 years, leading to a dramatic increase of the car ownership. As a turning point of this trend may be considered the commencement of the new Metro in the year 2000.
The Public Transport (PT) demand experienced a historical decline in Athens in the last 40 years, fact which is related with the dramatic increase of the car ownership. As a turning point of this trend may be considered the commencement of the new Metro in the beginning of the year 2000, expanded to 27 kms up to the 2004 Olympics. At the same time, a tariff innovation has been introduced, namely a travelcard (TC) valid over the entire bus and metro network. The bus card (BC) continued her presence, due to the much wider coverage of the bus network. Just with the Olympics, two new PT modes (tram, suburban air-rail link) began operations, as well as some new ticketing options, still covering less than 2% of the Athens public transport market. Therefore, this paper focuses on bus and metro, as well as on ordinary ticket and card users respectively.
The objectives of the paper are threefold. First, to estimate the impact of pricing and service level changes on the modal (bus, metro) ridership over time. Historical elasticities of demand derived from econometric time-series analysis are compared with model-based predicted elasticities derived from cross-sectional data of the Metro Development Study (MDS). Second, to valuate the independent effect of the TC introduction on the ridership generation by mode. Third, to explore the local impact of European state-of-practice tariff policies in respect to ridership and revenues
Section 1 begins with the organizational evolvement of the Athens public transport system. The variation of demographic and regional economic indicators (employment, car ownership, fuel price) in the last 25 years is presented, as well as MDS predictions for the horizons 2010/2020. The evolution of modal supply (veh-kms) and demand (ridership and sales by type of fare) over the same period is displayed. The changes of the tariff system up to its current status are briefly described. Cross-sectional survey data after the Metro opening revealed the intensity of the card use, thus the discount level of the TC (30%) and BC (60%) respectively. Enduring features, such as the heavily subsidized low fare level, the distance-independent fare structure and the full transfer pricing for the ticket users of buses are underlined.
In the second section, an aggregate time-series econometric model of the modal ridership per fare type is developed. Beyond variables instrumental of lagged structures and data mentioned in the previous section, other explanatory variables refer to the introduction of the TC, the 1991-93 period of bus privatization, as well as certain other major events. The short-run service and fare elasticities of demand are computed, whereby ticket users reveal - as expected - a much higher price sensitivity than card users.
Section 3 displays long-run fare elasticities based on ridership predictions and enumerations of the MDS model system. Aggregate fare elasticities of modal demand reveal (at a very low level) an almost double sensitivity of the bus vis--vis metro mode. Disaggregate fare elasticities of the MDS modal split (logit) models exhibit a higher range of values than the previous ones. However, the comparison of elasticities derived from different methodologies cannot be conclusive.
In the last section, alternative policies of full fare integration and zonal-based tariffs are run with the support of the MDS model system. Apart of the ridership forecasts by mode, the revenue implications are also estimated. A zonal tariff system is proposed, which recovers a large portion of the revenue losses due to the fare integration. Finally, a scope for a differential increase of card prices (especially bus cards) in Athens is highlighted.
Association for European Transport