Customer satisfaction with bus rapid transit: a study of New York City select bus service applying structural equation modeling

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus rapid transit, planning - service quality, operations - frequency, operations - performance, operations - reliability, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, infrastructure - vehicle, technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - service improvement, ridership - perceptions, ridership - attitudes


Customer satisfaction, Structural equation modeling (SEM), Bus rapid transit, Select bus service (SBS)


Like any other transit mode, bus rapid transit (BRT) has a number of service quality and performance attributes that can affect rider satisfaction. However, there is little understanding about BRT rider satisfaction. This study investigates the relationship between riders’ overall satisfaction and underlying driving factors of the BRT service in New York City (NYC), known as select bus service (SBS). Two conceptual structures are developed for three groups of SBS riders based on theoretical review and pilot survey. Hypotheses about relationships between latent variables and observed variables are developed. Survey data obtained from interviewing riders on buses and at bus stops are used to test the hypotheses by applying structural equation modeling (SEM). For each group of riders, one model was built. Acceptable fits were obtained for all three models. In addition, some of the proposed causal relationships were supported in these models. Accepted hypotheses suggest that service quality was the most important factor influencing overall satisfaction for all three kinds of riders, namely, frequency, on-time performance, and speed. The other significant attributes are bus-only lanes, buses with three doors, bus comfort and cleanliness, proximity of bus stops, real-time information, limited stops, and ticket system attributes. Their effects vary among riders on routes with different locations and between rider groups with and without awareness of travel information. The implications of the findings for future planning and system improvement are discussed. In this study, SEM is found to be an appropriate methodology for measuring rider satisfaction levels. The findings are useful for the agencies in NYC and other cities in a similar situation to justify and plan transit service with limited resources.


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