Intrapersonal variability in public transport path choice due to changes in service reliability

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Uncertainty during the course of a trip is regarded as a particularly disturbing phenomenon by public transport (PT) passengers and has been shown to have a substantial impact on travel behaviour. However, so far there has been little empirical evidence within contemporary research concerning the degree of mid- to long-term adaptation among PT passengers to changes in the principal cause of such uncertainty within PT transport systems: Lack of service departure reliability. While most studies to date have focussed on instantaneous or short-term behavioural responses, this paper presents results from a one-year panel dataset consisting of individuals’ trip itineraries derived from smart card transactions enriched by automatic vehicle location (AVL) data. We measured long-term line route usage and departure reliability, the latter in terms of headway regularity and schedule adherence, in two panel waves. Thus, we aimed for practical indicators that may be associated with specific line routes and origin–destination PT stop pairs used for recurring trips over time. Results from logistic regression indicate a consistent significant impact of changed headway regularity and punctuality change for line routes with relatively high departure frequency. However, there is a relative indifference to long-term reliability change by a significant share of individuals that have actual trade-offs between at least two line route options, possibly indicating satisficing behaviour among PT passengers. Implications on PT path choice forecasting and route planning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1517-1547
Issue number6
Early online date2021 Aug 17
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Transport Systems and Logistics

Free keywords

  • Panel data
  • Public transport
  • Service reliability
  • Smart card data


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