Urban transit quality of service : user perception and behaviour

Liu, Yulin (2013) Urban transit quality of service : user perception and behaviour. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Despite its potential multiple contributions to sustainable policy objectives, urban transit is generally not widely used by the public in terms of its market share compared to that of automobiles, particularly in affluent societies with low-density urban forms like Australia. Transit service providers need to attract more people to transit by improving transit quality of service. The key to cost-effective transit service improvements lies in accurate evaluation of policy proposals by taking into account their impacts on transit users. If transit providers knew what is more or less important to their customers, they could focus their efforts on optimising customer-oriented service. Policy interventions could also be specified to influence transit users’ travel decisions, with targets of customer satisfaction and broader community welfare. This significance motivates the research into the relationship between urban transit quality of service and its user perception as well as behaviour.

This research focused on two dimensions of transit user’s travel behaviour: route choice and access arrival time choice. The study area chosen was a busy urban transit corridor linking Brisbane central business district (CBD) and the St. Lucia campus of The University of Queensland (UQ). This multi-system corridor provided a ‘natural experiment’ for transit users between the CBD and UQ, as they can choose between busway 109 (with grade-separate exclusive right-of-way), ordinary on-street bus 412, and linear fast ferry CityCat on the Brisbane River. The population of interest was set as the attendees to UQ, who travelled from the CBD or from a suburb via the CBD. Two waves of internet-based self-completion questionnaire surveys were conducted to collect data on sampled passengers’ perception of transit service quality and behaviour of using public transit in the study area.

The first wave survey is to collect behaviour and attitude data on respondents’ daily transit usage and their direct rating of importance on factors of route-level transit quality of service. A series of statistical analyses is conducted to examine the relationships between transit users’ travel and personal characteristics and their transit usage characteristics. A factor-cluster segmentation procedure is applied to respodents’ importance ratings on service quality variables regarding transit route preference to explore users’ various perspectives to transit quality of service. Based on the perceptions of service quality collected from the second wave survey, a series of quality criteria of the transit routes under study was quantitatively measured, particularly, the travel time reliability in terms of schedule adherence. It was proved that mixed traffic conditions and peak-period effects can affect transit service reliability.

Multinomial logit models of transit user’s route choice were estimated using route-level service quality perceptions collected in the second wave survey. Relative importance of service quality factors were derived from choice model’s significant parameter estimates, such as access and egress times, seat availability, and busway system. Interpretations of the parameter estimates were conducted, particularly the equivalent in-vehicle time of access and egress times, and busway in-vehicle time. Market segmentation by trip origin was applied to investigate the difference in magnitude between the parameter estimates of access and egress times. The significant costs of transfer in transit trips were highlighted. These importance ratios were applied back to quality perceptions collected as RP data to compare the satisfaction levels between the service attributes and to generate an action relevance matrix to prioritise attributes for quality improvement.

An empirical study on the relationship between average passenger waiting time and transit service characteristics was performed using the service quality perceived. Passenger arrivals for services with long headways (over 15 minutes) were found to be obviously coordinated with scheduled departure times of transit vehicles in order to reduce waiting time. This drove further investigations and modelling innovations in passenger’ access arrival time choice and its relationships with transit service characteristics and average passenger waiting time. Specifically, original contributions were made in formulation of expected waiting time, analysis of the risk-aversion attitude to missing desired service run in the passengers’ access time arrivals’ choice, and extensions of the utility function specification for modelling passenger access arrival distribution, by using complicated expected utility forms and non-linear probability weighting to explicitly accommodate the risk of missing an intended service and passenger’s risk-aversion attitude.

Discussions on this research’s contributions to knowledge, its limitations, and recommendations for future research are provided at the concluding section of this thesis.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 61517
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bunker, Jonathan, Lee, Brian, & Ferreira, Luis
Keywords: access arrival time choice, discrete choice model, factor-cluster analysis, internet-based survey, market segmentation, multinomial logit (MNL) model, passenger arrival distribution, public passenger transport, quality management, quality of service, revealed preference (RP), risk aversion, schedule adherence, stated preference (SP), transit assignment, transit route choice, travel behaviour, travel time reliability, urban transit, user perception, waiting time estimation
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Jul 2013 01:52
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 02:48

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