Understanding factors influencing public transport passengers’ pre-travel information-seeking behaviour

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, ridership - behaviour, planning - surveys, planning - signage/information, mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail


Public transport, Pre-travel information, Information-seeking behaviour, Information sources, Journey planning stages


This paper investigates factors influencing public transport passengers’ pre-travel information-seeking behaviours in a British urban environment. Public transport traveller surveys were conducted to better understand the journey stages at which information was sought and the information sources used. A multivariate explanatory model of pre-travel information-seeking behaviour was developed using binomial logistic regression. Explanatory factors considered include socio-demographics, trip context, frequency of public transport use, information sources used, and smartphone ownership and use. Findings suggest that travel behaviour (5 + trips weekly, and < 1 trip weekly), socio-demographics (unemployment/unknown employment), trip context (journey planning stages, mode of transport), and preferred information sources (Internet site, word-of-mouth, visits to travel shop/centre/library) were significant predictors of pre-travel information-seeking behaviours among surveyed travellers. While the final model found that bus users are significantly associated with the use of Internet sites as a source of pre-travel information, rail users rely significantly on a multiplicity of sources comprising Internet sites, word-of-mouth, and visits to a travel shop/centre/library. The final model suggests that metro (light rail) users tend not to seek pre-travel information. The odds of seeking pre-travel public transport information are 2.512 times greater for respondents who reported < 1 trip per week as opposed to those who reported 5 + trips per week. These findings are relevant for passenger information strategies deployed by operators and authorities and can be used to caution against a “one size fits all” strategy for travel information service provision. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.


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