Impact of childhood experiences on public transport travel behaviour

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - urban, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, ridership - young people, ridership - demand, planning - surveys, policy - sustainable


Public transport, Travel behaviour, Retrospective method, Socio-psychology, Mobility biographies, Path model, Childhood residential location experience, Childhood travel experience, Residential neighbourhood attitudes, Travel attitudes


Mobility policies and planning need evidence to target individuals effectively in moving to more sustainable transport behaviour outcomes where car use is reduced, and multimodal public transport use is enhanced. Building on more recent travel behaviour research which has a socio-psychological approach and the mobility biography literature, this paper focusses on an individual’s public transport travel behaviour, as impacted by travel and residential location experiences in their childhood. The empirical analysis uses a bespoke retrospective survey with respondents from the Greater Metropolitan area of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia where understanding better the motivations underpinning travel behaviour are particularly acute, given the car dependent nature of Australian cities. A path model illustrates how residential neighbourhood perceptions and travel attitudes impact on travel behaviour and how these are influenced by background, including childhood residential and travel experiences. The results show the dominance of current travel attitudes on current travel behaviour but childhood experience is also significant and appearing to work by impacting current residential neighbourhood perceptions and travel attitudes, suggesting travel behaviour not only affected by personal attitudes and socio-demographic characteristics, but also influenced by context (spatial, social, cultural, etc.). When travel behaviour is seen as a social construct influenced by long standing and entrenched experiences influencing current perceptions and attitudes, policy that identifies which mobility practices are likely to be flexible and open to change is more likely to be successful in changing behaviour.


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


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