Modeling passengers’ loyalty to public transit in a two-dimensional framework: A case study in Xiamen, China

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - bus, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, operations - crowding, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement


Public transit, Loyalty, Structural equation modeling, Quality of bus service, Index score of variables


Sustaining and improving passengers’ loyalty has become an effective strategy for the development of bus priority. Passengers’ loyalty towards public transportation could be generally assessed in both attitudinal and behavioral levels. Thus, in this context, spuriously loyal passengers could be characterized by attaching a relatively low level of attitude to public transit users who have high behavioral patronage. Due to the lack of attitudinal preference, these passengers have the potential to turn to alternative transportation modes. Therefore, their loyalty should be better assessed, and targeted approaches should be provided to maintain the market share. This paper adopted a cross-classification framework to divide bus riders by considering different levels of loyalty in both attitudinal and behavioral dimensions. The framework led to four specific segments of passengers, and spurious-loyalty users were identified by using clustering analysis methods in a case study in Xiamen, China. Then, Structural Equation Modeling approach was employed, and hypotheses accounting for public transit loyalty were examined and analyzed in a baseline model. Moreover, key factors leading to spurious loyalty were identified, and index score of corresponding variables was calculated. Surprisingly, the results indicated that over half of users who highly adhered to public transit were not attitudinally loyal. However, although these passengers were dissatisfied with the current level of public transit service in specific regions as expected, their willingness of continuing-to-use public transit maintained at a high level. It implied that the cost of shifting to private motorization in Xiamen might still be high, so most spuriously loyal passengers had to continue choosing public transit in the near future. Nevertheless, the key to successfully sustain the long-term development of public transit should still focus on delivering passenger-value-oriented quality services. Therefore, with regards to the improvement of bus service to maintain the market share, targeted measures should be taken in terms of “crowdedness in the bus during peak hours”, “driving stability and comfort”, “bus speed”, “waiting time at stations” and “convenience of route transfers”.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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