This research was undertaken in New Zealand in 2010-11 to investigate the economic concepts of option values and non-use values as applied to public transport services, and to undertake primary market research in New Zealand to estimate approximate valuations.
The primary market research involved telephone-based surveys of a random sample of households in four peri-urban/semi-rural communities within the outer catchment area of major urban centres. The surveys used contingent valuation methods to establish household willingness-to-pay for the provision of enhanced public transport services to/from the nearest main centre, and to estimate the various components (consumer surplus, option value, non-use value) of the overall willingness-to-pay value.
The survey results were used to derive the average willingness-to-pay per household; the component of this that is not included in conventional transport economic appraisals; and the underlying factors (eg service and household characteristics) influencing the willingness-to-pay values. The results were also compared with the equivalent findings from the small number of research studies undertaken internationally on this topic.
Recommendations were made on an appropriate set of default option/non-use values (per household) for use in the economic appraisal of public transport projects in New Zealand.