Behavioral shifts after a fatal rapid transit accident: A multinomial logit model

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, place - north america, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice


Transit, Fatal accident, Behavior, Travel inertia


The Washington, DC Metrorail collision in 2009 presents a rare opportunity to study rapid transit passengers’ responses to a highly publicized rail incident entailing injuries and fatalities. To investigate behavioral responses to the accident, particularly mode shifts, we conducted a web-based survey of approximately 300 commuters traveling on Metrorail after the accident who had used Metrorail in the 6 months prior to the collision. The most common response to the accident was avoidance of the first and last train cars. Some respondents substituted some Metrorail trips with other modes or took fewer Metrorail trips. To investigate factors influencing these behavioral responses, we employ multinomial logit models to explore the statistical association between respondent and travel characteristics and the choice among the options of (1) making no changes, (2) avoiding certain seating locations, (3) changing modes of transportation, and (4) changing both seating locations and modes of transportation. Results suggest that travel inertia, specifically mode inertia, exists, in that respondents generally prefer not to make mode or travel choice changes. However, some mode characteristics, such as cost differences and frequent delays have a statistically significant association with mode switching. Gender and the presence of children in the household correlate with the option selected.


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


Transportation Research Part F Home Page: