An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Security Perception on Intercity Mode Choice: A Panel Rank-Ordered Mixed Logit Model

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, planning - terrorism, ridership - mode choice, mode - bus, mode - rail


U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Travellers, Travelers, Travel time, Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Terrorism, Stated preferences, Security measures, Security, Safety and security, Railroad transportation, Rail transportation, Mode choice, Modal choice, Mixed logit models, Logits, Logit models, Journey time, Intercity travel, Highway users, Decision making, Choice of transportation, Business trips, Business travel, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Airlines, Airline industry, Air lines, Air carriers


In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, individuals have become increasingly conscious of travel safety and security issues. Hence, in addition to travel times and costs, perceptions about security levels can be an important factor influencing intercity travel decisions. In the past few years, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented several procedures, including rigorous screening, to improve airline security. However, these procedures have increased airline travel times. An empirical analysis is presented of individuals’ mode choice for intercity business trips incorporating trade-offs between improved security levels and increased travel times. Stated-preference data collected in New York City were used to develop a panel rank-ordered mixed logit model. It was found that individuals who held positive impressions about the security measures were more likely to fly but the utility of air mode decreased with increasing inspection and boarding time. The implication of these empirical results is that the TSA should seek both to improve public perceptions of the security arrangements and to ensure fast and efficient screening so as to sustain or increase the demand for air travel. Caution should be administered in generalizing these findings, however, as they are based on a small sample and on data gathered from an area directly affected by the events of September 11. In summary, the importance of research toward understanding the role of security perceptions on intercity travel decisions is reiterated, and a first step in this direction is presented.