Passengers' Satisfaction With Intercity Transport Services in the BUEA MUNICIPALITY
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An increase in population generates increasing in travel demand. Nowadays, Cameroon deals with explosive growth in vehicle ownership and utilization. An increased road length and new roads generate faster and longer trips, more trips by car and higher car ownership all of which adds up to more traffic congestion and pollution.
Public transport is one important solution for this problem. Public transport operators are forced to place emphasis on the monitoring and improvements of the services provided in an attempt to address the increasing rate of car ownership. The study focuses on passenger’s satisfaction with inter-cities transportation services in Cameroon, with Musango Bus service Ltd as Case study.
Specifically, the study sought to determine how the condition of the inter-cities’ transportation vehicles influences customer satisfaction, examine the factors influencing passenger satisfaction of inter-cities’ transportation services and to identify major challenges faced by inter-cities bus service to meet the demands of its customers.
To achieved these study objectives, the study employed a descriptive survey design to sample 60 correspondents using a structure-questionnaire and interviews guide using a convenience and purposive sampling techniques. Data was analysed using SPSS 21.0 where descriptive statistics and correlation test were used to test the hypothesis.
Findings revealed that loud uncomfortable music is played, the cleanliness of the interiors and exterior is insufficient for some buses, appropriate seats are not available for females, the aged, expectant women and the physically challenged were the major conditions of the buses.
Factors that influence passenger satisfaction of a transport services includes comfort and safety in the bus, clean environment inside buses, the elegant design of buses and bus stops, facilities inside buses are in good condition, bus stops have enough shelters, buses are well maintained, drivers and conductor behave well.
Major challenges faced by Musango bus service to meets its customers’ demands, it was concluded that High cost of fuel, Poor roads infrastructure, Limited Number of Buses, highway robbery, Anglophone crisis (Ghost town activities), Government policies influence the provision of efficient and effective public transportation services, Police harassment and bribery and Traffic congestion were major challenges that hampered the effective and efficient delivery of transportation services to meets customers’ demands.
It was concluded that commuters (passengers) were much dissatisfied with the transportation services offered by Musango service ltd.
It was recommended that drivers/transportation companies should ensure reliable transport service, moderate fare level and boost comfortability in order to achieve the satisfaction of passengers in Cameroon.
For many years, public transport has been viewed as an inevitable need in several parts of the world (Cervero&Golub,2007). Illes (2005) stated that immobility leads to poverty. This implies that the movement of people and goods affects the daily endeavours of human beings, particularly in the economic aspect. A good transport system cannot be attained if there are no effective and efficient services that enhance people’s living standards and gives them satisfaction through features such as affordability, efficiency, availability and economically importance for development. Not only should it have these features but should be a transport system that gives commuters the satisfaction they want.
Commonly identified urban transport problems in Many Cameroonian cities are long waiting times for buses, traffic congestion, parking difficulties, air pollution, and traffic accidents (Ashiedu 2011). This is because of the increasing travel demand and preferences in using private vehicles in Most cities in Cameroon (Banjo 2008). To prevent more problems caused by the rise in demand for urban transport and increase in private motorization, it is highly recommended by many researchers as well as public decision-makers to provide an attractive public transport service as an alternative transport mode in many cities (Banjo 2008).
In addition to congestion, private motorization is also affecting the safeness of road users and high consumption of non-renewable vehicles has caused a serious threat to the human environments. Researchers agree that many problems in public transport can be prevented by improving the quality of service in public transport (Kodukula, 2009). Furthermore, drivers are fond of delaying passengers before takeoff to their various destinations in most urban cities in Cameroon. Other issues around passengers’ dissatisfaction are the ill-manner of drivers, lack of good relationship, drinking habit and money-driven behaviour among others. Anderson, Baggett and Widener (2007) supported that these are indications of operation failure, and they affect passenger’s satisfaction seriously.
Public transport should become a solution for sustainable transport in the future. However, to keep and attract more passengers, public transport must have high-quality service to satisfy and fulfil a wide range of customer’s needs (Anable, 2005). The transport service industry comprises of several modes which range from air, water, railways, pipelines and road transports. However, this study focused on rapid transport, which is under the category of road transport. A rapid bus usesa dedicated lane with the ability to carry out a significant number of passengers taking a trip to work, home, hospital, school and leisure. Unlike a commuter bus which frequently stops anywhere in the city centres, a rapid bus stops only in dedicated bus stops along the route. Intercity buses exist all over the world that is operated by the government or private industry (Young, 2004).
Despite the popularity of the mode of transport, there has been an outcry from passengers about the quality of service offered that are very poor. Researchers and transport expert have tried to single out all problems related to transportation to the level of satisfaction. For example, Fellesson and Friman (2008) conducted a study in European countries to assess the satisfaction of passengers in public transport. Results showed that passengers were not satisfied with the reliability and information, waiting time in bus stops, comfortable of seats and staff skills, knowledge and attitudes to passengers. There has been a similar study in Africa where road transport is dominant compared to another mode of transport. Odufuwa (2006) highlighted some indicators for public transport to offer more efficient and safer services to passengers (Okoko 2007).
There is an increase in the level of competition between transport operators and hence reduced earnings (Mporogomi, 2001). But on the other side of the coin, there is a challenge among transport operators to seek and improve other dimensions pertaining quality of the transport service they provide to win customers. Several new companies are formed and enter this industry but surprisingly most of them failed to sustain in business. It is necessary to make a thorough research on how the service quality influences customer satisfaction in connection with the strategies to retain customers.
Traditionally, under the competitive market environment the rival companies in an industry, transport in particular focus on adjusting the price, i.e. bus fares to lower rate (especially those enjoying cost leadership advantage) to win more market shares, increase sales and hence more profit gain. To a large extent, the bottom-line indicator of the performance of freight and passenger road transport is the operating cost per ton or tonne-km (or per passenger or passenger-km).
Level of service aspects such as travel time, reliability, safety, comfort and security are also important, as well as environmental impact. Currently, most of the transport service providers shift into improving the service quality of their services rather than relying on bus fare adjustment to improve the business performance even though the production costs will probably increase as they improve service quality. Moreover, by improving the service quality, the transport firm acquires a sustainable competitive advantage over its rivals (Fimbo, 2008).
The population of Buea Municipality is increasing significantly and the size of the city is expanding horizontally. As the number of populations increases, the number of passengers using public transport also increases. To accommodate the increasing numbers of passengers, transport service is expected to expand.
However, the supply of transport services is not proportional to the demand. Due to limited numbers of buses as well as routes, poor people who cannot afford other modes of transport are exposed to walking long distances, and longer waiting and travel time.
During peak hours, the demand extremely exceeds the supply of service. At this time, many people are waiting for transport service for a long time and there is a hard struggle to get the service.
Furthermore, buses are overcrowded and operate without closing their doors, which may expose passengers to accidents, suffocation, pickpocketing and communicable diseases. It is also too difficult for the elderly, pregnant, patient and disabled people to get the service.
Thus, this research seeks to examine passenger’s satisfaction with inter-cities transportation services in Cameroon.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine passenger’s satisfaction with inter-cities transportation services in Cameroon, with Musango Bus service Ltd as Case study.
To determine how the condition of the inter cities transportation vehicles influences customer satisfaction
To examine the factors influencing passenger satisfaction of inter cities transportation services
Identify major challenges faced by intercities bus service to meet the demands of its customers.
- To what extent does the condition of the intercities vehicles influence customer satisfaction in Cameroon?
- What factors influence passenger satisfaction of intercities transportation services in Cameroon?
- What are the major challenges faced by intercities transportation services to meet the demands of customers in Cameroon?
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