Travel satisfaction inequality and the role of the urban metro system

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, policy - sustainable, policy - equity, ridership - attitudes, land use - planning


Travel satisfaction, Discrepancy, Rail transport, Expectation, Beijing


Transport equality is one of the key aspects of sustainable urban transport. Personal satisfaction with travel among different communities and social groups has become a main theme in the field of transport equality research. However, there has been little investigation of the expectation confirmation mechanism underneath this affective feeling. Moreover, there is not enough evidence on how the discrepancy between expected and actual travel relates to satisfaction. This study first identifies the regional and social disparity in general travel satisfaction among residents in Beijing, then discusses how the satisfaction response to the dissonance between expected and actual travel, and finally investigates the role of urban rail transport in this disparity. The results show that general travel satisfaction presents both regional and social disparities, with city-centre and middle-income residents having higher travel satisfaction. Disconfirmation of travel expectations partly explains travel dissatisfaction. The inconsistency between travel discrepancy level and satisfaction for lower income residents further reflects transport inequality issues, and it provides a clue for transport policymakers to promote transport equity from a sufficientarianism perspective. Public transport-related development has an important role in improving different aspects of travel satisfaction. Among them, higher level of mixed land use in metro station catchment areas and higher metro network centrality of the home nearest station help to increase the travel satisfaction of disadvantaged residents. This is realised via enhancing destination options for low-income or suburban residents, and via providing a relatively smooth and tidy travel experience for disadvantaged groups, who tend to use metro as a major travel mode.


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


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