This interdisciplinary thesis combines psychological and transportation planning knowledge. Three main questions are investigated: 1) What concepts and ideas do people have with regard to a public transportation system (cognitive user perspective)?; 2) What orientation and information factors within the public transportation system enhance Ease-of-Use and make it simpler and more efficient to use public transportation in metropolitan areas?; 3) How can Ease-of-Use of a public transportation route be measured?
A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was used. Between 2002 and 2007 a total of nine different studies were conducted: An in-depth study on a single exchange student, an interview study with exchange students, a questionnaire study on exchange students, a before-after interview study with travellers on selected bus stops, an before-after telephone interview study on residents, an expert questionnaire study via email, a behaviour observation study on travellers, a before-after questionnaire study on travellers on a tram line, and an on-board questionnaire study.
To analyse the cognitive user perspective the term memory representation was introduced, that includes cognitive maps of and additional knowledge about a public transportation system such as service frequency. Memory representation is influenced by experience. Three learning phases in an unknown public transportation system are proposed and a general information search script is described. A new approach is presented regarding the organisation of public transportation knowledge: The ground level is that there exists a public transportation option, the next level is the identification of the mode of transport and at the highest level of the hierarchy is the code for the line. Within the second level, the public transportation mode, a hierarchical structure of public transportation option knowledge is proposed. Three factors are postulated that contribute to the extent to which a line is represented in people’s memory: visibility, straight route layout and labelling.
Which orientation and information factors within the public transportation system enhance Ease-of-Use, i.e. match the cognitive user perspective? It was found that trunk bus lines enhanced Ease-of-Use and at-stop real-time information can have various positive effects. The role of good maps is explained and stretched and the importance of consistent information throughout the travel chain is also pointed out. In addition, many valuable concrete hints are given with regard to how to match the system properly with the cognitive user perspective.
Undoubtedly, an interaction exists between system and user and they influence each other. This is where the third research question comes in: How can Ease-of-Use in public transportation systems be measured? The iterative process of defining and measuring Ease-of-Use resulted in a scale that measured the defined concept well with good reliability and validity.
The final discussion highlights the contribution to science of this thesis and presents some possible paths for further research. The thesis consists of a summary and eight papers.
Dziekan, Katrin. (2008). “Ease-of-Use in Public Transportation – A User Perspective on Information and Orientation Aspects.” Doctoral Dissertation. Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.