Intention to use light-rail transit in Houston, Texas, United States: Findings from the travel-related activity in neighborhoods study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, planning - surveys, planning - promotion, planning - marketing/promotion


Intention to use public transit, light-rail transit, public health, Houston TRAIN study


Using data from the Houston Travel-Related Activity in Neighborhoods (TRAIN) study, this study examined how various factors affect whether individuals intend to use newly opened light-rail transit (LRT) lines in Houston. The Houston TRAIN study is a natural experiment on the effect of new LRT lines on both transit use and physical activity. A mixed binary logit model was developed based on a dichotomous dependent variable and rich set of variables, including sociodemographic factors, health status, travel behavior and technology, and attitudes and perceptions. The mixed model also allowed accounting for the unobserved heterogeneity across individuals in their sensitivity to observed variables. The results indicated the important role of various factors influencing the decision on intent to use the new LRT lines. In general, demographics mattered but to a lower extent than psychological or personality-related variables. For example, attitudes and perceptions toward the public transit system and consciousness of physical activities derived by using public transit were important factors. Personal health constraints negatively influenced intention to use, while experience with the public transport system was among the positive indicators. The findings show the potential of future interventions in this community to promote use of the new system, such as educational campaigns that improve perceptions of public transit use and clarify the benefits of being active. While providing growing evidence that cognitive variables are important in measuring intention to use public transit, the results emphasize the positive role of efforts integrating transportation and health to develop effective and sustainable solutions.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.