Identifying the Determinants of Light Rail Mode Choice for Medium- and Long-Distance Trips Results from a Stated Preference Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - europe, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, ridership - perceptions


light rail, Flanders, mode choice, perceptions, behaviour, travel cost, in-vehicle travel time, seat availability


The introduction of new public transport systems can influence society in a multitude of ways ranging from modal choices and the environment to economic growth. This paper examines the determinants of light rail mode choice for medium- and long-distance trips (10 to 40 km) for a new light rail system in Flanders, Belgium. To investigate these choices, the effects of various transport system-specific factors (i.e., travel cost, in-vehicle travel time, transit punctuality, waiting time, access and egress time, transfers, and availability of seats) as well as the travelers' personal traits were analyzed by using an alternating logistic regression model, which explicitly takes into account the correlated responses for binary data. The data used for the analysis stem from a stated preference survey conducted in Flanders. The modeling results are in line with literature: most transport system-specific factors as well as socioeconomic variables, attitudinal factors, perceptions, and the frequency of using public transport contribute significantly to the preference for light rail transit. In particular, the results indicate that the use of light rail is strongly influenced by travel cost and in-vehicle travel time and to a lesser extent by waiting and access-egress time. Seat availability appeared to play a more important role than did transfers in deciding to choose light rail transit. The findings of this paper can be used by policy makers as a frame of reference to make light rail transit more successful.


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