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More than just a bus ride: The role of perceptions in travel behaviour


  • Nicholas Klein


The purpose of this article is to add another dimension to our understanding of travel behaviour by highlighting how individual decisions about travel are simultaneously influenced by both rational, calculable metrics of the transportation system but also by socially constructed, context-specific perceptions that travellers hold about the travel modes themselves. The context for this study is a rapid transformation of the market for intercity buses in the Northeast United States. In the past 15 years, new entrants have transformed a humdrum industry into a dynamic sector of the intercity travel market. The new entrants, curbside buses, have largely shunned traditional bus terminals in favour of picking up and dropping off bus passengers on city streets. Ridership has steadily increased, and these new bus companies have expanded operations throughout the country. Drawing on a series of focus groups with intercity bus passengers, I describe how two sets of factors drive intercity travellers’ choice to travel onboard the new intercity buses. First, the new companies offer operational and economic advantages. Second, and surprisingly, focus group participants have different perceptions of the new bus companies than the old – and these perceptions appear to be influencing their travel decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Klein, 2017. "More than just a bus ride: The role of perceptions in travel behaviour," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 54(11), pages 2490-2503, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:54:y:2017:i:11:p:2490-2503

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