Learning to use transit services: adapting to unfamiliar transit travel

Lorelei Schmitt, Alexa Delbosc, Graham Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Travel behavior change has become an area of interest in many cities around the world, particularly to encourage people to change from car use to transit use. Previous research indicates that habits can act as a barrier to travel behavior change and that new use of transit can be associated with some negative characteristics such as increased anxiety and difficulty with wayfinding. However, thus far little research has focused on gaining an in-depth understanding of the process of travel behavior change from the perspective of the new transit user. The present research seeks to fill this gap through a rich qualitative exploration of the process of undertaking ‘new’ (to the participants) journeys on transit, how this experience differs from familiar or habitual travel, and the process of learning and habituation that is undertaken as unfamiliar travel is repeated and evolves into familiar travel. This is achieved by using Grounded Theory to collect and interpret data from 30 semi-structured interviews where participants described both familiar and unfamiliar trip experiences in their own words. The process of undertaking unfamiliar transit travel is characterized by a number of barriers and obstacles and it is characterized by uncertainty and anxiety. If unfamiliar travel is repeated, a change process occurs which includes a number of cognitive processes and adaptations to streamline the process of travel. From the findings, a number of recommendations to support long term travel behavior change are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1049
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • First trips
  • Public transport
  • Qualitative research
  • Transit
  • Unfamiliar travel

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