Determinants of Perceived Importance of Targeted Transportation Services for Low-Income Riders

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - commuting, mode - mass transit


Travel time, Transit dependency, Transit, Socioeconomic factors, Socioeconomic aspects, Sociodemographics, Public transit, Probits, Probit models, Poverty, Poor people, Mass transit, Low income groups, Low income families, Local transit, Journey time, Jobs, Job Access and Reverse Commuting program, Accessibility


It is generally agreed that transit services in disadvantaged neighborhoods can have potentially positive effects on the accessibility of socially excluded or economically marginalized families. The impact of transit services has been quantified by using objective measures, such as travel time, travel cost, and changes in earnings or destinations reached. Although the body of literature on this topic is exhaustive, researchers have acknowledged the importance of more subjective measures associated with trip decision making of individuals. An index of perceived service importance (PSI) was used to study the impact of the subjective dimension of trip making. Riders of transit services were surveyed, and a conceptual model of activity changes that may be enabled by the services of the Job Access Reverse Commute program was designed to facilitate the modeling process. An ordered probit model was developed to explore the relationship between PSI and sociodemographics, service type and characteristics, employment attributes, and travel-related factors. Three models were estimated, and the differences among the models stemmed from the particular subsample used and the effects considered. The results of all three models highlight the importance of the service to frequent users. Time saved, trip length, type of service used, and type of area are somewhat important in explaining PSI, but not in all models. Results indicate that the PSI is indicative of extreme transit dependency, calling for use of these types of measures in addition to hard measures, in evaluating low-income transit services.