, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 519–538 | Cite as

What do people know about their public transport options?

Investigating the memory representations of public transport through telephone interviews in a residential area of Stockholm, Sweden
  • Katrin DziekanEmail author


This paper studies the memory representations of residents regarding the public transport system in their city. Telephone interviews were conducted with a representative sample of 204 inhabitants in a selected residential inner-city area in Stockholm. Route knowledge questions, recognition tasks, free-recall tasks and estimations of service frequency were used to explore memory representations. The results showed that, in general, residents in metropolitan areas have good knowledge of the public transport options along well-known transport corridors. The memory representation of lesser-known transport corridors tends to be of a poorer quality. In the results presented here, the variables gender, age, employment status, level of education and car availability had no correlation with the quality of the memory representation, but experience increased knowledge. Although frequent users of public transport had a more detailed representation of the system, the less frequent users also had a considerable- and good-memory representation. An explorative hierarchy for representation of public transport lines in the memory is proposed. It is hypothesised that memory representations of a transport line can be affected by the following three factors: the extent to which a line is visible in the urban area, the straightness of the routes and whether or not stops are labelled, for example, by destination area. Simply put, these factors determine how well a person knows a line. It was found that people first remember a commuter train and a trunk bus line, followed by metro lines and suburban buses and finally normal inner-city buses with the poorest anchorage in memory.


Cognitive map Knowledge Public transport Residents’ memory representation 



This research was financed by VINNOVA—The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (22329-1). The author would like to thank the reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Transportation & Economics, Division Transportation & LogisticsRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH), School of Architecture and The Built EnvironmentStockholmSweden

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