Intraurban Rail Access Policy Implications of Five Revealed Perspectives from a Q-Sorting Exercise in Three Australian Cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - australasia, place - urban, planning - service improvement, policy - equity


intraurban rail, travel experiences, policy approaches


This project advances the current understanding of intraurban rail passengers and their travel experiences to help rail industry leaders tailor policy approaches to fit specific, relevant segments of their target population. Using a Q-sorting technique and cluster analysis, preliminary research identified five perspectives occurring in a small sample of rail passengers who varied in their frequency and location of rail travel as well as certain sociodemographic characteristics. Revealed perspectives (named to capture the gist of their content) included "Rail travel is about the destination, not the journey"; "Despite challenges, public transport is still the best option"; "Rail travel is fine"; "Rail travel? So far, so good"; and "Bad taste for rail travel." This paper discusses each of the perspectives in detail and considers them in relation to tailored policy implications. An overarching finding from this study is that improving railway travel access requires attention to physical, psychological, financial, and social facets of accessibility. For example, designing waiting areas to be more socially functional and comfortable has the potential to increase ridership by addressing social forms of access, decreasing perceived wait times, and making time at the station feel like time well spent. Even at this preliminary stage, the Q-sorting technique promises to provide a valuable, holistic, albeit fine-grained, analysis of passenger attitudes and experiences that will assist industry efforts in increasing ridership.


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