Lost in transit? Unfamiliar public transport travel explored using a journey planner web survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, planning - surveys


Unfamiliar public transport travel, First trips, Life events, Transit passenger information website, Travel planning websites, Primacy effect


Attracting and retaining public transport users is fundamental to a number of land use and transport policy objectives which seek to reduce single-occupant vehicle travel. Understanding the psychological processes underlying unfamiliar public transport use may assist in achieving this aim. This paper explores unfamiliar transit travel using a survey conducted through an online travel planning website in Melbourne, Australia. The survey obtained ‘before and after’ travel data and explored the circumstances of unfamiliar travel, travel experiences, and the impact of these experiences on attitudes and behavior. A total of 3,537 ‘before’ responses and 658 eligible ‘after’ surveys were obtained including 152 unfamiliar transit journeys. Compared with familiar travel, unfamiliar travel was more commonly associated with: life events, less time living in Melbourne, travel companionship, visiting new locations, and non-work-related trip purposes. Unfamiliar travel experiences were rated more negatively for ‘navigation’ and ‘emotional state (level of anxiety)’ and more positively for ‘expected versus actual travel time’ and ‘level of comfort’. Analysis of travel attribute ratings and intention to re-patronize services indicated that there was a significant relationship between positive trip experiences and intention to re-patronize services for all users, and particularly for unfamiliar travelers. These results suggest that unfamiliar public travel experiences are quite different to familiar travel and are important to optimize to encourage re-patronization and help grow public transport markets.


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