Importance of traveler attitudes in the choice of public transportation to work: findings from the Regional Transportation Authority Attitudinal Survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - elasticity, ridership - perceptions, ridership - attitudes, ridership - commuting, mode - rail, mode - bus


Mode choice, Public transportation, Attitudes and perceptions, Factor analysis, Logistic regression, Elasticities


The commute mode choice decision is one of the most fundamental aspects of daily travel. Although initial research in this area was limited to explaining mode choice behavior as a function of traveler socioeconomics, travel times, and costs, subsequent studies have included the effect of traveler attitudes and perceptions. This paper extends the existing body of literature by examining public transit choice in the Chicago area. Data from a recent Attitudinal Survey conducted by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Northeastern Illinois were used to pursue three major steps. First, a factor analysis methodology was used to condense scores on 23 statements related to daily travel into six factors. Second, the factor scores on these six dimensions were used in conjunction with traveler socioeconomics, travel times, and costs to estimate a binary logistic regression of public transit choice. Third, elasticities of transit choice to the six factors were computed, and the factors were ranked in decreasing order of these elasticities. The analysis provided two major findings. First, from a statistical standpoint, the attitudinal factors improved the intuitiveness and goodness-of-fit of the model. Second, from a policy standpoint, the analysis indicated the importance of word-of-mouth publicity in attracting new riders, as well as the need for a marketing message that emphasizes the lower stress level and better commute time productivity due to transit use.


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