A New Market Segmentation Approach: Evidence from Two Canadian Cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, ridership - behaviour, planning - surveys, planning - marketing/promotion


transit market, customer base


Traditionally, transit market research has categorized passengers into two distinct groups: captive riders and choice riders. Market analyses that depend on such broad categories are likely to overlook important details about the needs and desires of their customer base. This study attempts to better understand the complexities of the different groups who take transit by using information from five years of customer satisfaction questionnaires collected by two Canadian transit providers. Employing a series of clustering techniques, the analysis reveals that nine market segments are present across different modes in both transit agencies. Three different overarching groups of transit users are identified based on income and vehicle access: choice users (~69%), captive users (~18%), and captive-by-choice users (~13%). The groups are consistent across transit modes and in different geographical regions and are generalizable enough to be widely applicable as a conceptual framework for segmenting and understanding public transit users.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by the Journal of Public Transportation, copyright remains with them.