Evaluating service quality in the South African public road transportation industry : a case study of Johannesburg.
The study of public road transport in Johannesburg is important because public transport provides the benefits of personal mobility and access to economic prosperity to a large number of people who rely, and are, dependent on public transport for their mobility needs. However, for decades, the public transport in South Africa has been characterized by many economic and social problems that can no longer be overlooked; exacerbated by the poor quality of service and the lack of modal integration. These problems require sustainable long term solutions, and if left unattended, could seriously impact a range of communities in the city. This study is of particular importance as it is envisaged that it will contribute towards improving the quality of public road transport service in Johannesburg, thus attracting new users and retain existing ones. The aim of the study was to evaluate passengers’ perceptions of the quality of service offered by the bus and minibus taxi industries utilising reliability, extent of service, comfort, safety, and affordability as important service quality dimensions. A sample of 902 respondents participated in the study. The respondents were drawn predominantly from Johannesburg because the study focus was on the Johannesburg Public Road Transportation System. The survey was administered personally by the researcher to individual passengers, intercepted at bus and minibus-taxi terminals in Johannesburg. As a result of the complexities involved in the process of sampling in the public transport context, an area sampling technique was used to select terminals, thereby automatically selecting the passengers to be included in the study. Various statistical tools were used for data analysis. The data was analysed utilising Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and Statistical Analysis System (SAS). The study findings showed that the perceived quality of bus transport service exceeded that of minibus taxis by a significant margin. Those who used buses more often tended to have a higher opinion of the quality of bus transport. Those who used minibus taxis as their primary mode of transport did not do so because they had a high opinion of the quality of the minibus taxi experience. The service quality dimensions of reliability, extent of service, comfort, safety, and affordability, were perceived as being positively correlated and important to passengers’ perceptions of service; thus increasing future utilization of the service. Gender and occupation were not significant in influencing the overall service quality provided by the bus. Gender and income were not significant in influencing the overall service quality provided by the minibus taxis. The study findings met the objectives of the study. Consequently, professionals and academics stand to benefit from the study findings. The focus should be on the aforementioned service quality dimensions in order to improve passengers’ perceptions of public road transport service, and thus, address the public transport conundrum.