Service standards

There is an inevitable linkage between the standards set for passenger transport services, and the costs of their provision; in turn, these costs must be recovered from passengers through their fares or increases in the level of external support required for the system.

Standards that directly affect the costs of provision include the hours and frequencies of services at periods of low demand (evening and weekends, for example) and any loading limits placed on vehicles, particularly for standing passengers. Regulators may impose standards that are then higher than the general willingness to pay, and can result in higher tariffs and hence lower levels of demand.

Safety standards, including vehicle fitness for duty and limits on driving hours, also impose costs though these normally have broad public support. Access standards that facilitate travel by those with impaired mobility may increase capital and maintenance costs, but provide societal benefits. Comfort standards allow for differentiation in the service offer, and air-conditioned services might be offered at a premium fare for example.