Exploring the behavior of suburban train users in the event of disruptions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, ridership - behaviour, planning - signage/information, planning - surveys


User behavior, Suburban train passenger choice, Public transport, Disruption, Clustering, Diary study


Little research has examined the behavior of public transport users in response to a service disruption that has just occurred. This article aims to identify the different ways in which suburban train passengers cope with service interruptions or delays and to identify the factors involved in their decision-making process. We conducted a study mixing two methods: a revealed-preference questionnaire that asked 185 participants about their choices during the last major disruption they encountered and a diary study in which participants described all disruptions they experienced during a two-week period. Eighty disruptions were reported in detail by 38 users. We analyze our results using multiple correspondence analysis and ascending hierarchical clustering to construct eight suburban train passenger behavioral profiles. Additionally, we compare different cases of disruption (in a multiple-case study). We identify three categories of factors affecting suburban train user behavior: individual-specific factors, journey-specific factors and information-specific factors. The findings show that user expertise, car availability, perception of service recovery time, opinions on passenger information services, available transport services, time constraints, and the moment and place at which communication about the disruption is received influence user behavior.


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


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