Exploring the Rail Factor with Schemata of Bus and Rail: Two Studies from Germany and Switzerland

Many public transport studies have found that potential passengers consider rail-based public transport superior to bus systems. Why is this? Two studies have been completed in Germany and Switzerland in search of explanations for this so called rail factor. In this paper these two studies are presented and discussed in order to introduce the schemata approach and to help identify differences of attributions towards rail- and bus-based public transport. The ways in which people perceive and value a product or service are called attributions. Together a set of attributions forms an image of the product or service. Attributions can be organized into schemata. Schemata and other routines are used as cognitive shortcuts and hence affect human behavior. This research used attributions towards public transport modes to develop schemata for tram, urban bus, regional train and regional bus. The research found a rail factor (i.e. a preference for using rail assuming equal service conditions) of 65% for regional train and 76% for trams compared to bus services. The higher preference for rail-based systems in urban areas reflects positive attributions towards the guideway. While guideway and environmental attributions are prominent factors in urban public transport mode preferences, emotional and social attributions are important in regional public transport preferences. It is important to emphasize that attributions to schemata are influenced by the region of residence and hence, the experience one has with the different public transport systems. Nevertheless, further research is needed to quantify the influence of these schemata on travel behavior.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 23p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 90th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01332926
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 11-1194
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 17 2011 5:42PM