Income Effects and Other New Findings on Complexity of Transit Tours

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - behaviour


transit tours, income, complexity, access to vehicle


Tours involving the use of public transit have always been viewed as less complex—including fewer stops and types of activities within a tour—than tours made by automobile or other modes. However, this traditional hypothesis was developed and supported by household travel surveys that included a relatively small subsample of transit users. The authors present a report on recent onboard transit ridership surveys in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, that were used to collect information on the complexity of transit riders' tours. The results suggested that, contrary to common belief, transit tours were at least as complex as tours by other modes, on the basis of household surveys of the same regions. Results of the new surveys also revealed that income and vehicle ownership had a significant and opposite effect on the complexity of transit tours than they had on tours by other modes. Thus, the traditional hypothesis of simpler transit tours held for more affluent transit users but did not hold for a typical, less affluent transit user. Comparisons of the results of the onboard and household surveys further suggested that the traditional hypothesis of simple transit tours might have arisen from a bias toward more affluent riders in the subsample of household travel surveys that contained transit. The overall finding that transit tours may actually be more complex and involve more types of activities than previously thought has important implications for transit planning.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.