The Effects of Perception vs. “Reality” on Travel Behavior after a Major Transit Service Change: The Case of Tallahassee, Florida.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, planning - surveys, planning - service quality


public transportation, perception, service quality, riders attitudes and behaviors, objective measures


An individual’s perception plays an important role in determining the decisions that people make involving the use of public transportation. An individual’s perception about the qualities of transit service might differ from the objective measures (“reality”) of service quality used by planners to make and evaluate decisions. This study explores the roles of perception and “reality” of transit service quality as influences on the attitudes and behaviors of two different groups of transit dependent riders after a major service change in Tallahassee, Florida. Using a combination of community surveys, key informant interviews, and agency data, the study finds that perception mattered more than “reality” as an influence on the attitudes and behaviors of the two groups. The need for more effective outreach to understand the reasons that individual perception might differ from the objective measures used and understood by transit professionals also emerges as an important lesson of the study.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by National Center for Transit Research, University of South Florida, copyright remains with them.