Commuter travel cost estimation at different levels of crowding in a suburban rail system: a case study of Mumbai

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - rail, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, operations - crowding, operations - capacity


Mumbai, Crowding effect, Public transport, Choice modelling, Stated preference, In-vehicle time, Waiting time


This research values travel attributes such as waiting time, in-vehicle time and crowding levels using behavioural data obtained from Mumbai local train commuters through a stated preference experiment. Actual on-board crowding images are considered to perceive the crowding more realistically by the train users. A multinomial logit modelling technique is used for estimating commuter travel cost (time) at different crowding levels. Results show that there is an increase in perceived in-vehicle travel time with the increase in crowding level. Traveling in a crowded seating condition increases the travel cost by 0.81 min per 1 min travel. A crowded seat leads the user to perceive an 81% increase in in-vehicle travel time, whereas this perception increases by 282% more during travel in super dense crush crowding compared to normal travel conditions. The generalized travel cost increases to a maximum in the super dense crush crowding. An effect analysis was carried out to understand the sensitivity of gender, age, income, and trip length on travel attributes. Female users tend to perceive more decrease in utility due to crowding than male users. A reduction of 60% in seating capacity will lower the perceived travel cost per minute by 43% during peak hours of travel. Essentially, a reduction in seat capacity will increase the standee capacity which in turn offers more comfort to standees while standing in super dense crush load condition. Presented discussions in this research are important to policy-makers and planners in the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation to monitor, measure and develop programs for the local train operation service quality. The study findings will be useful for developing a policy framework to deal with issues related to the level of service improvement for the suburban rail system in India and other developing economies.


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