Rescuing the captive [mode] user: an alternative approach to transport market segmentation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bike, mode - car, mode - mass transit, mode - pedestrian, place - north america, ridership - mode choice


Market segmentation, Captive user, Choice user, Mode choice, Travel behaviour, Active transport


The prevailing approach to transport market segmentation which identifies two distinct groups, ‘‘captive’’ and ‘‘choice’’ users, has widely been used by professionals and scholars despite the ambiguity associated with these terms. Furthermore, conflicting interpretations from the point of view of decision makers and individuals may result in negative policy implications where the needs of captive users are neglected in favour of attracting new users. This study attempts to address these concerns by proposing an alternative segmentation framework that could be applied to any mode of transport, in any regional context, by users and decision makers alike to better guide the development of transport policies. Using the results of a large-scale transportation survey, a series of clustering techniques are employed to derive this alternative approach for segmenting walkers, cyclists, transit and automobile users. The main factors considered in the final clustering analysis are the level of trip satisfaction and practicality. The analysis yielded four market segments: captivity, utilitarianism, dedication and convenience. Using this theoretical framework to understand the distribution of travellers among market segments is essential in identifying distinct and appropriate policy interventions to improve trip conditions. It is hoped that the segmentation approach and policy framework proposed here will encourage a better balance between pragmatic and idealistic goals in transportation policy.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Springer, copyright remains with them.