Understanding the travel experience and its impact on attitudes, emotions and loyalty towards the transportation provider–A quantitative study with mid-distance bus trips

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - behaviour, ridership - attitudes, ridership - perceptions


Cognitive, Emotional, Holistic travel experience, Loyalty, Scale development


Enhancing the travel experience has become a crucial consideration for transportation companies to promote differentiation and customer loyalty. Therefore, transport planners, providers and manufacturers in general are becoming aware of the significance of understanding the passenger experience better, in order to improve transit policies, management and vehicles. The holistic perspective of the travel experience is conceptualized as involving: (1) a thorough set of passenger internal responses (e.g. cognitive and emotional) that are driven by experience factors, some of which are (2) aspects that are not in complete control of the transportation provider, such as waiting areas or the social environment, during (3) all the moments before, throughout and after the trip. Although transportation research has studied the different aspects of transportation quality, empirical studies with such a broad approach to the travel experience and its impact on loyalty are still scarce.

This article takes a scale development approach to conceptualize, develop and test a multiple-item scale for measuring the travel experience from the defined holistic perspective, analyzing its perceptual dimensions and outcomes based on a quantitative study with 1226 passengers of a mid-distance bus transportation service. The travel experience scale demonstrates good psychometric properties and consists of 28 items aggregated into seven dimensions or experience factors: individual space, information provision, staff's skills, social environment, vehicle maintenance, off-board facilities, and ticket line service.

The study shows that all seven experience factors have a significant impact on customer cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses to the transportation service, highlighting the importance of a broad approach to the study and management of the travel experience. The classical dimensions of individual comfort and vehicle maintenance are the ones with the strongest impact on experience outcomes, showing that transportation providers should maintain a strong focus on providing a good core service. However, other factors such as the social environment have an influence on emotions, which in turn affect loyalty to the transportation provider. These results show the need for a careful study and management of the different aspects of the travel experience, and an integrated design and management of the transport system as a whole.


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


Transport Policy Home Page: