Who doesn’t mind waiting? Examining the relationships between waiting attitudes and person- and travel-related attributes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - perceptions


Waiting, Wait episodes, Seemingly unrelated regression, Travel behavior, Travel time, Multitasking, Polychronicity


Waiting, whether for services, for someone, or for something, is an inescapable part of life. This paper addresses a gap in the waiting time literature by examining previously sparsely studied relationships between individual- and travel-related characteristics and attitudes toward waiting using a revealed preference dataset of Northern California commuters (N = 2617). Correlational analyses, followed by a trivariate seemingly unrelated regression equations model, are developed for three waiting attitudinal constructs: general tolerance toward waiting, and attitudes toward equipped and expected waiting. Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, time use perceptions and preferences, personality traits, multitasking attitudes (polychronicity), commute preferences and expectations, and general attitudes (e.g. pro-technology) are all seen to have significant effects on waiting attitudes. As this survey was executed on commuters, it also facilitates a unique simultaneous exploration of travel and wait time attributes, time uses that are often similarly viewed in day-to-day life. From this perspective, we see that longer commute times and distances are correlated with negative attitudes toward waiting, while commuters with pro-transit, pro-density, and pro-active transportation attitudes tend to have positive attitudes toward waiting. Additionally, we see that those with preferences for multitasking in general or at their jobs can tolerate waiting better. Overall, this study constitutes a distinctive contribution to the waiting time literature, capitalizing on a rich dataset to make important connections between related time uses and a multitude of other variables—key among them polychronicity, with its potential ability to reduce the negative perception and experience of waiting. Findings from this study may also benefit transportation and other service providers by facilitating an understanding of how various consumer groups/demographics view waiting, thus enabling providers to better cater to diverse needs/populations.


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