Public Transit and Passenger Airlines: Opportunities and Challenges
Public transit is also known as public transportation and varies from buses, trains, coaches, trolleybuses and tram among others. Usually, passengers are required to pay fares in order to access transport services. Buses mainly provide short journey transportation for passengers and accommodate minimum passengers compared to trains and trams (Mallet, 2008 pp 2). Public transit has placed measures to cater to the elderly and those with disabilities; in the United States, dial-a-ride is a service offered to this group of people. Electric trains are very fast and they are mostly preferred by passengers on long journeys; however, their fares are quite high compared to buses and shuttles.
It is evident that the Public Transit Department has provided citizens with various choices in the mode of transportation, accessibility, effectiveness, and affordability. The passenger airline is one of the major contributors to the United States economy, consisting of 2000 airlines that provide services to over 3700 airports and consisting of 2billion passengers. The air travel business is estimated to continually grow in years to come. In the United States, passenger airlines are about 100, making 11 million trips annually, hence contributing to over $160 billion in revenues. In addition, the passenger airlines have about 500,000 employees, with over 31,000 flights a day (Massachusetts Institute of technology, N.d).
The difference in the marketing of public transit and passenger airline services
According to Polat (2007, pp 175), the change in people’s lifestyles and the higher cost of another private mode of transportation, for instance, taxis or privately owned cars, leads to many citizens opting for public means of transportation. Therefore, the marketing of public transit depends on factors such as the degree of infrastructure in some cities and the demand for these services. Nevertheless, these public transit services require management that is efficient for the services to last for a long time. However, marketing of these services is faced by the challenge of increased ownership of private cars, which has contributed to air pollution, high cost of fuel and traffic jams. Public transit is therefore seen as a savior to the high costs incurred, however, those who prefer public transportation have to part with the comfort of privately owned vehicles. Nevertheless, for effective marketing of these services, the management must come up with a marketing mix that will last long enough to attract and sustain customers to the public transit and discourage them from using privately owned vehicles.
Public transit has to be capable of competing with the rising incomes of individuals, which has to lead to the ownership of private vehicles. The demand for services is essential in marketing that particular service, as the management does not need to spend much in convincing the public. However, demand is affected by the uncertainties of the economic situation of a country in terms of a country’s productivity and fluctuations. Moreover, the demand for public transportation varies within different days of the week, different weeks, and different seasons.
In the public transport sector, customer satisfaction contributes to the demand for their services, hence may result in high demand for the services or a high desire to purchase a private car, cycling, and walking. Therefore, the public transport services companies should be in a position to increase efficiency in their operations in order to attain more market share. Public transit should therefore be effective in terms of speed, number of seats in the buses and trains, among other features.
Demand management goes hand in hand with the marketing of service, since they are able to market their service through increased customer satisfaction, and the management is able to estimate future demand. Economical problems, population growth, and different modes of lifestyle contribute highly to the demand for public transit; hence, the management should make use of such opportunities to market their services. This can be through providing favorable fares to customers and air-conditioning among other favorable traveling conditions.
Since private cars are associated with traffic jams, reducing parking space, and contributing to extra use of fuel, many are discouraged. Hence, it is the duty of management to make sure that the customers will not regret having opted for the public means (Polat, 2007, pp 178). For public transit to survive, it must acquire a competitive advantage as compared to other modes of transportation. According to Polat (2007 pp 178), some of the measures put in place by the European countries in order to promote public transportation include high charges on parking spaces, increased tax rates on private cars, high fuel prices and limited parking spaces.
Marketing strategies in the public transit
Public transportation is always associated with service; therefore, the adoption of different strategies to market their services is evident, hence marketing decisions are based on the four Ps of the marketing mix. In the product component of the marketing mix, public transportation offers traveling services, some associated with comfort while others are normal. Buses, shuttles, trains vary in their mode of transportation; sometimes passengers have to part with a high amount to experience comfort. With the variety of varying services in these trains, a customer is able to make an affordable choice especially if they are traveling for a long journey.
The second element of the marketing mix is price, whereby, prices vary with different means of transport, for busses, shuttle, and trains; hence, a customer can be able to choose the preferred mode of transport. One strategy in pricing is offering discounts; for example, trains in the United States offer discounts on tickets. In addition, the public transit should be customer friendly, as this is the only way they are capable of attracting customers who are trying to save on costs.
In the third element of the marketing mix, placement, public transportation is efficient in the way it picks and drops passengers to their various destinations on time; indeed, delays may discourage passengers from using public transportation and prefer the use of private cars, which are readily available. Public transit has shown commitment in ensuring that a certain bus, train, shuttle, or tram shows up on time and leaves on time to ensure punctuality.
The last component of the marketing mix is promotion, which is necessary for public transit; this can be online advertising, or on billboards, as a way of encouraging passengers to ride with them. Moreover, promotion can be evident in discounts offered on fares and courteousness observed by drivers. In addition, mounting television on busses can be a source of advertisement, such that, after every 10 minutes, they can advertise their services. Nevertheless, the public transit management should design a service that responds to the customer’s needs.
Market segmentation is important and easy for the public transit business. Players need to target a specific market with similar needs and then provide these needs, in this case, ridership services.
Consumer behavior is very important in market segmentation. When targeting a population dependent on public transit, management should ensure that it introduces new strategies that are aimed at attracting the public. They can emphasize cost leadership by being the leading low-cost service provider and service differentiation by providing unique services that will attract and retain passengers. It is always hard to attract customers but what is harder is how to retain them, to prevent them from opting for an alternative.
Passenger airline is the most competitive in the transportation sector, as it includes first-class, business class and economy class, thus giving a customer the freedom of choice. This factor in itself is a marketing strategy; however, the marketing mix is mostly used by passenger airlines. In terms of product or service, the airlines make sure that their customers receive adequate services in terms of their traveling class, some airlines offer music, television, snacks and beverages and other services depending on the chosen class preferred by the customers. In terms of price, the airlines differ, for instance, the British airlines provide a first-class service, business class, premium economy class and an economy class. All these classes offer a different mode of services and their prices differ in regard to comfort, meals and space. This in turn gives the customers a wide variety of choices to choose from, depending on their affordability.
For the American airline, it offers a range of classes to cater for all types of passengers; these classes vary from coach class, business class, and first-class, which provide comfort in all classes, for instance, their first class is split into two – domestic first-class and flagship suite first class. With the services varying in the two airlines, it gives room for competition as each airline tries to outwit the other and attain a competitive advantage. These classes differ in terms of price, therefore catering to all types of customers.
In terms of promotion, the passenger airlines promote their services by advertising on television and mostly online where they even provide opportunities for interested customers to book their flights, thus creating easy accessibility. Finally, the place is the last factor of the marketing mix, in which these airlines ensure that their passengers reach their destinations on time and without delays. A driver, cabin crew, or assistant courtesy is one of the factors mainly forgotten in marketing, as courtesy contributes highly to the customer’s attitude regarding a certain service.
It is however evident that the airline sector consists of stiff competition that leads to marketing strategies, such as cost leadership and market differentiation, which determine the marketing of these services (Wensveen, 2006 pp 260). The airlines are normally faced with dilemmas when the weather is unfavorable, hence interfering with the day’s schedule, resulting in delays, with passengers being forced to camp at the airport until it is suitable to travel. Deregulation in this industry has yielded more profits due to flexibility in operations; in addition, passengers are able to save due to the low price of the air ticket.
Nevertheless, deregulation especially in the united state has contributed to the creation of jobs for many deregulations have also allowed commercial airlines to penetrate the market. Deregulation has also had negative effects on the airlines such as; stiff competition which has led to the fall of major airlines such as pan American world airways and eastern airlines, as a result of bankruptcy.
As a result of deregulation, new businesses emerge in the market and they compete to attain a market share, hence competition gets stiff and only the tough and wise airlines are able to attain a competitive advantage in order to survive. Due to the tough market condition, the airlines have resulted in forming alliances, for instance, the KLM/ Northwest, Atlantic alliance and the British airways and the STAR alliance. This has led to the United States and the United Kingdom governments negotiating on open skies (the airline industry, n.d)
Challenges faced by a general manager of a transit agency
Each business faces challenges in its operation; however, one of the main disappointments experienced by the airline passengers is the cancellation of flights due to unavoidable circumstances, for instance, unfavorable weather for flying. In this case, the manager must be ready to communicate to an anxious and angry crowd. Therefore, the management of any airline should ensure that there is a systematic flow of operations in the airline in terms of performance, productivity, and effectiveness to avoid such cases.
In addition, public transit is faced with the challenge of too many private vehicles that exist due to the rise of income for some citizens, hence forcing them to change their lifestyle in order to enjoy comfort. This is a major threat to public transit, as it proves hard for them to attract car owners to shift to public transport. The passenger airline faces the challenge of political environment where it entails strict measures in different countries in terms of landing quotas in some airports. When an economy of a country is in crisis, the airlines are very much affected.
Attracting new riders to a transportation company may be difficult due to stiff competition in the industry. For instance, in the airline industry, so many airlines compete for customers, hence the management of each airline has to work extra hard to attain a competitive advantage in order to attain a market share. Therefore, they have to adopt new strategies like additional traveling classes at affordable rates and offering discounts to attract customers. Indeed, the demand of customers is a result of customer satisfaction.
Mr. Inglish has been successful in the transit sector and has played a major role in improving transit. Nevertheless, to increase ridership in public transportation, the management should ensure that their services achieve customer satisfaction. That is the only way that the transit can excel and attract more customers. Customer satisfaction starts from the driver’s courtesy, hence the involved companies should train their staff and motivate them. This is because the staff acts as a source of inspiration to the customers, such that, the customers look forward to accessing the mode of transport again. The management can also consider offering discounts for its customers. This strategy can be adopted for some days; for instance, they can offer discounts twice a week. This strategy is capable of attracting customers, as they will view it as a means of saving on costs.
Providing a means of entertainment on busses and trains could also work, as customers will be occupied and entertained, hence reaching their destination ‘fast’ than expected. Mr. Inglish should propose to the government to increase parking fees for privately owned vehicles, increase gas charges, provide limited parking spaces, and increase car prices. This move may seem awkward, but it has proven worth it since the rise of the fuel charges in America forced many citizens to opt for public transportation for the past two years (Mckendrick, 2010).
Public transit is very important to the United States, as it contributes highly to the economy. Due to the recent recession, the industry has improved in ridership as many opt for public transportation due to the high costs in fuel charges. Therefore, the management in this industry should be in a position to market its services to ensure continuous growth and ridership of public transportation. Privately owned cars contribute highly to pollution and traffic jams, however, if public transportation can be adopted by many citizens, then such problems can be minimized.
Mallet, W. (2008). Public transit program issues in surface transportation reauthorization. (Attached documents).
Massachusetts Institute of technology. (N.d). Airline Industry Overview. Web.
McKendrick, J. (2010). Public transit ridership shows the first increase in two years. Smart planet. Web.
Polat, C. (2007). A Review of the Literature and Discussion on Marketing and Forecasting Demand for Urban Public Transport Services. European journal of scientific research, Vol. 19.
The Airline Industry. (N.d). Web.
Wensveen, J. (2007). Air transportation: a management perspective. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Web.