Do first trips matter? exploring unfamiliar public transport travel

by Lorelei Schmitt

Institution: Monash University
Department: Department of Civil Engineering
Year: 2015
Keywords: Unfamiliar public transport travel; First trips; Primacy effect; Attitudes; New users; Customer experience; Wayfinding; Unfamiliar trips; Circumstances
Record ID: 1035127
Full text PDF: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1144528


Attracting and retaining public transport passengers is a common policy goal amongst cities worldwide. Understanding new users of services is crucial to achieving this goal. This thesis addresses this challenge by examining unfamiliar public transport travel. The overarching aim of the research is: To explore unfamiliar public transport trips to better understand their circumstances, experiences and significance to mode choice. This aim is being addressed through exploration of ‘first trips’ or ‘unfamiliar public transport travel’; that is, the first time using a public transport route never taken before. There is very limited previous research directly concerning experiences of unfamiliar transit journeys and their impact on subsequent travel behaviour; therefore the Review of Literature draws from a wider, multi-disciplinary pool of research to explore the conceptual framework of unfamiliar public transport travel. For example, studies in psychology have repeatedly shown that first impressions are associated with higher rates of recall and influence on subsequent attitudes, a phenomenon referred to as the ‘primacy effect’ (Stiff et al. 1989; Forgas 2011; Le-Klähn et al. 2014). This suggests that unfamiliar public transport trips could be particularly important to attitudes and subsequent travel behaviour. Four research methods were employed to collect and analyse primary data related to the topic. 1) Thirty audio-recorded semi-structured interviews provided rich qualitative data and insights about unfamiliar public transport travel. 2) The Origin-Destination (OD) Survey involved working with the research sponsor, Public Transport Victoria (PTV), to add questions to a very large annual origin-destination survey of transit users to better understand circumstances of unfamiliar transit travel. 3) The University Access Survey employed a web-based survey of Monash University staff and students to learn about their first trips to campus by public transport and compare those experiences with their subsequent transit travel to campus. 4) The PTV Journey Planner Poll & Follow up Survey utilised a popular transit passenger information website to conduct a poll and then recruit respondents to complete a ‘post-trip’ follow up survey, enabling monitoring of any shifts in attitudes and reporting about unfamiliar travel experiences soon after they occurred. The Discussion and Conclusions draws together the key findings from the research and confers the practical applications and implications of the research, as well as suggesting the direction for further research.