Rail transport is a critical mass transit mode in South Africa performing in excess of 400 million passenger trips per annum. Within a high density metropolitan region it is expected that rail passenger transport form the backbone of the public transport system, however in the Gauteng region it is estimated that only 8% of public transport commuting trips are completed by train; approximately 2% of total commuting trip. Total rail passenger trips have declined by nearly 20% since 2013/14. This suggests that the passenger rail service provider, PRASA, is not providing the service levels that commuters require. If rail is to fulfil its expected role, it is crucial that service levels are improved. The 2014 Gauteng Household Travel Survey suggests that train users were generally dissatisfied with train services, citing availability, overcrowding on trains, punctuality and reliability of services, geographical coverage and frequencies of services as key limitations. To more accurately assess the extent of service dissatisfaction, this research applied an adapted SERVQUAL model to determine the gap between commuters’ perceptions of service quality and their expectations. The study utilised a longitudinal approach to determine whether customer perceptions of five dimensions of service quality, i.e. reliability, the extent of the service, comfort, safety and affordability had changed over a two-year period. The results indicate changing gaps in most of the dimensions and a number of attributes were identified as having influenced the perception of service quality significantly enough to lead to customer dissatisfaction.This research provides transport authorities and public transport operators responsible for the provision and subsidisation of public transport with a tool characterised by a good degree of openness and flexibility, to fit individual needs. It might also be of interest for practitioners wishing to explore the main drivers of satisfaction among transport users.
Papers Presented at the 2018 37th Southern African Transport Conference 9-12 July 2018 Pretoria, South Africa. Theme "Towards a desired transport future: safe, sufficient and affordable".