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Users and the information provided by urban public transport networks



Accordingly, users are required to absorb and analyse a large amount of information in order to find (construct) the appropriate (i.e. optimum) response to their particular requirements. One must therefore consider the hypothesis according to which a total or partial inability to make use of this information is an obstacle to the use of urban public transport.

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Three types of survey were implemented on the urban transport networks of Marseille, Saint-Étienne and Valence: - one survey for operators and public transport authorities, - a second survey for employees of urban transport operators who have contact with the public; and a third survey for the users of the different networks.



Research has identified four complementary means of accessing public transport, with a degree of overlap between each: empirical learning, theoretical learning (based on being able to use the information provided), local knowledge, and local collective culture concerning urban public transport. This research highlighted the fact that not being able to make use of information provided – and therefore have theoretical knowledge of the network – generates inequalities with regard to the appropriation of urban public transport. It also showed that oral information is the preferred means of overcoming a failure to fully understand the written information available, as users generally – in all sorts of contexts, regardless of whether the written word is involved – like to ask for customised oral information. This research led to recommendations for urban public transport networks' information and communication policies: more staff present on the ground and more information in spoken form; simplification and clarification of written information; development of information tools that encourage people to make full use of their cities; development of networks' educational role.


  • Name/Title : Christian Harzo, Virginie Favre-Mercuret, Frédéric Couty, Marie-Pierre Clerget
  • Organisation : Observatoire Social de Lyon (Lyon Social Observatory)
  • Address : 30 Rue Sainte-Hélène – 69002 LYON – France