The number of bus passengers is on the rise in Turku
Above: Commuters, schoolchildren and students are the most frequent bus passengers.
Above: Ida Sandberg uses buses daily and thinks that public transportation in Turku runs smoothly.
Above: Turku’s Public Transport Office is now in a central location.
Buses are popular again; they are liked and are being used. In Turku, the annual number of journeys made on the bus has risen by one million in two years. This means a total of 20.4 million bus journeys, or 116 bus trips per resident per year. Does that sound like a lot?
In June 2010, the Brahe Trip Planner service was introduced on the Internet and sent the number of passenger numbers soaring.
– Previously, it was difficult to determine bus routes. But when you enter the starting address and final destination into the trip planner the service looks for the best bus routes, and shows alternatives as well as walking distance to the bus stops, says Turku City Public Transport Director Sirpa Korte.
– In addition, there has been a change in attitudes towards buses, particularly among young people who are more eco-friendly and don't mind expending a little effort into putting their values into action, notes Korte .
Student Ida Sandberg uses different bus routes on a daily basis and thinks that public transportation in Turku runs smoothly.
– The earlier changes have been good, for example, the electronic bulletin boards at the bus stops are great. There could be more, but, on the other hand, they don’t want to waste a lot of money. The municipal co-operation on public transport also sounds really good, says Sandberg .
Services to meet the requirements
Public transport users come from almost all age groups, although middle-aged men are conspicuous by their absence. Women are more active bus users than men, but amongst young people both are equally active.
– With regard to competitive factors, the comfort and speed of a journey are the principal actors. If we want motorists to be more frequent users of public transport services we need to be able to offer them a pleasant travel experience, states Korte.
In the early 2000s the number of public transport users went into rapid decline. As a result, bus routes had to be reduced and the number of users continued to fall. Korte points out that the opposite is now happening.
– As the number of bus users rises, we have been able to improve our services. For example, the public transport office moved to a visible position on the corner of the Forum shopping centre and many of our buses now have the air conditioning needed to cope in the summer.
– Naturally, improvements can always be made. For instance, buses could have better lane arrangements and the service culture should be further improved, Korte adds.
More changes in a greener and more service-oriented direction
From the perspective of public transport services, Turku’s planned light rail service is a good project. The planned route extends out to Runosmäki and Varissuo, where bus services are in heaviest use.
– Although buses now have very strict emission limits, trams would still be the more ecologically friendly solution. Using electricity for transportation would mean that there shouldn’t be any local emissions. In addition, trams help solve some rush hour problems, says Korte.
As a second green step Turku is considering the introduction of biogas buses in the future. This completely renewable resource is widely used by Stockholm’s public transport system as a form of energy.