The role of culture and evolving attitudes in travel behaviour assimilation among south asian immigrants in Melbourne, Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions


role of culture, travel behaviour


A range of studies have found that immigrants generally start out using different travel modes but over time they ‘assimilate’ toward adopting similar travel modes to the general population. These studies tend to focus on ‘when’ and ‘if’ travel assimilation occurs, with some studies using socioeconomic factors to explain ‘why’ this occurs. But few studies have explored the role of culture, attitudes and other ‘soft’ factors in shaping the process of travel assimilation among immigrants. In Australia, South Asians have been the largest and fastest growing immigrant group, and as skilled migrants they face few ‘hard’ barriers to car use. The aim of this paper is to explore the interaction between cultural influences, attitudes and initial travel experiences upon arrival in Australia on long-term travel assimilation amongst South Asian immigrants. Qualitative interviews with 20 South Asian immigrants were used to identify a range of cultural and psychosocial factors, such as perceptions towards travel modes and gender-based cultural norms. Attitudes and behaviours evolve during their early years in Australia, beginning with a ‘honeymoon period’ – a phase where all travel modes are seen as positive – before car use begins to dominate. The findings have implications for how we understand the interactions between attitudes, cultural practice and travel behaviour and how they evolve over time. They also imply that policymakers have only a narrow window of time to encourage sustainable transport among South Asian immigrants before the travel ‘honeymoon period’ wears off.


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