How does the state of bus operations influence passengers’ service satisfaction? A method considering the differences in passenger preferences

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - bus, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement, planning - surveys, ridership - old people, ridership - young people, ridership - commuting, ridership - attitudes, policy - environment


Bus operation quality, Passengers’ satisfaction, Preference factors, Public transit, Random forest, Travel behavior


Public transit (PT) is one of the most important choices for urban residents’ daily travel, and bus operation quality and passengers’ satisfaction are the key factors affecting the attractiveness of urban public transport. However, different types of passengers have diversified expectations and subjective criteria for bus service quality. Therefore, it is worth investigating the relationship between operation quality and service satisfaction among a heterogeneous global cohort of passengers, to develop more scientific strategies to enhance passengers’ satisfaction by improving the operational quality of PT. By considering the diversity of requirements of the different passenger groups, this paper intends to characterize quantitatively the relationship between the operation and service of buses by correlating the bus operation data and service satisfaction questionnaire data. Structural equation modeling is deployed to quantitatively describe the relationship between the latent variables affecting quality perception and overall satisfaction. A Gaussian Mixture Model was established to classify bus passengers into four typical groups based on their travel purposes and individual characteristics. A random forest feature selection method was used to identify the core preference indicators of the four different groups. An “Operation–Service” relational impact model was established to explore the relationships between the bus operating status and service evaluation from the point of view of different passenger groups. The results show that operational efficiency has the greatest impact on passengers’ overall satisfaction. If the average transport speed could increase from 10 km/h to 15 km/h during the rush hours of the workday, the satisfaction scores increased for different groups. When the arrival time fluctuation of the bus is controlled to within 10 min, the satisfaction score for travel time reliability will increase by 122% among young commuting passengers. Some policy recommendations and strategies for specifically increasing passenger satisfaction were also proposed to encourage passengers to adopt a lower-carbon and environmentally friendly way of traveling.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: