What Affects Use of Pretrip Public Transport Information? Empirical Results of a Qualitative Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - route design, planning - signage/information, land use - planning, ridership - attitudes, technology - passenger information, mode - mass transit


Travellers, Travelers, Transit riders, Transit, Timetables, Social psychology, Route selection, Route choice, Public transit, Psychosocial aspects, Psychological effects, Psychological aspects, Pre-trip planning, Perceived behavioral control, Passenger information systems, Mobile telephones, Mental attitudes, Mass transit, Local transit, Internet, Information services, Highway users, Habits, Attitudes, Age groups, Advanced traveler information systems


With the rise of the Internet and mobile phone, various forms of public transport information services have emerged that enable people to make better informed travel choices. Nevertheless, many people are unaware of these information services, and only a minority of the public uses them. Lack of awareness is only one of several barriers to travel information use. A study was done on factors influencing the pretrip use of public transport information services (via different media—the Internet, telephone, paper timetables, asking staff). A social–psychological perspective has been adopted that takes habit, attitudes, anticipated emotions, and perceived behavioral control into account. Twelve face-to-face in-depth interviews and six focus groups were conducted across the United Kingdom among car drivers and public transport users. Results show that social–psychological factors seem to be important determinants of travel information use. External factors such as trip context could affect these determinants. People do not tend to travel by public transport without consulting any public transport information, unless there are no time constraints, the service runs frequently, or the journey is local. Individuals also seem to have a default source of travel information that they use for most trips. Except for most people older than 60, the Internet dominates as the common default travel information source. Phoning an inquiries line is unpopular across all age groups, but for different reasons: older people prefer face-to-face contact by visiting their local station, whereas younger people prefer to look up the information for themselves online.