Travel mode choice and travel satisfaction: bridging the gap between decision utility and experienced utility

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, ridership - mode choice, ridership - attitudes, ridership - perceptions, ridership - behaviour, land use - transit oriented development


Residential location, Travel behavior, Travel mode choice, Travel satisfaction, Travel-related attitudes


Over the past decades research on travel mode choice has evolved from work that is informed by utility theory, examining the effects of objective determinants, to studies incorporating more subjective variables such as habits and attitudes. Recently, the way people perceive their travel has been analyzed with transportation-oriented scales of subjective well-being, and particularly the satisfaction with travel scale. However, studies analyzing the link between travel mode choice (i.e., decision utility) and travel satisfaction (i.e., experienced utility) are limited. In this paper we will focus on the relation between mode choice and travel satisfaction for leisure trips (with travel-related attitudes and the built environment as explanatory variables) of study participants in urban and suburban neighborhoods in the city of Ghent, Belgium. It is shown that the built environment and travel-related attitudes—both important explanatory variables of travel mode choice—and mode choice itself affect travel satisfaction. Public transit users perceive their travel most negatively, while active travel results in the highest levels of travel satisfaction. Surprisingly, suburban dwellers perceive their travel more positively than urban dwellers, for all travel modes.


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