A simple makeover can increase bus ridership: The story of Tayo bus

Hyeonjun Hwang, Myoung jae Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We show that simply decorating buses with famous animation characters can substantially increase the bus ridership. In April 2014, the Metropolitan Government of Seoul decorated four buses with popular animation characters. One month later, the Seoul Government increased the number of decorated buses to 100. As this “decoration” policy/treatment affected only some regions in Seoul, we estimate the effects of the policy using ‘difference in differences’ that is the difference between the before–after ridership difference of the affected regions and that of the unaffected regions. We find a statistically significant increase of about 6 riders per day at each bus stop as the number of decorated bus routes at the bus stop increases by one in May 2014. This number may sound small, but it is meaningful because it costs only about $1000 per bus to implement the policy, and the bus fare revenue increase in May 2014 alone is many times greater than the total makeover expense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2020R1A2C1A0100778611 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bus ridership
  • Difference in differences
  • Public transportation
  • Tayo bus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation


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