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Rescuing the captive [mode] user: an alternative approach to transport market segmentation


The prevailing approach to transport market segmentation which identifies two distinct groups, “captive” and “choice” users, has widely been used by professionals and scholars despite the ambiguity associated with these terms. Furthermore, conflicting interpretations from the point of view of decision makers and individuals may result in negative policy implications where the needs of captive users are neglected in favour of attracting new users. This study attempts to address these concerns by proposing an alternative segmentation framework that could be applied to any mode of transport, in any regional context, by users and decision makers alike to better guide the development of transport policies. Using the results of a large-scale transportation survey, a series of clustering techniques are employed to derive this alternative approach for segmenting walkers, cyclists, transit and automobile users. The main factors considered in the final clustering analysis are the level of trip satisfaction and practicality. The analysis yielded four market segments: captivity, utilitarianism, dedication and convenience. Using this theoretical framework to understand the distribution of travellers among market segments is essential in identifying distinct and appropriate policy interventions to improve trip conditions. It is hoped that the segmentation approach and policy framework proposed here will encourage a better balance between pragmatic and idealistic goals in transportation policy.

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We would like to thank the McGill Office of Sustainability and McGill Campus and Space Planning for their feedback and guidance at various stages of this project. We would also like to thank Daniel Schwartz from IT Customer Services for his assistance in developing the online survey and managing the distribution of the survey to the McGill Community. Thanks to Jacob Mason, Marianne Hatzopoulou and Naveen Eluru for their help throughout the survey design process. Also we would like to thank Guillaume Barreau for modeling the transit trips to McGill in Google Maps, as well as Vincent Chakour for his help with data cleaning and manipulation. We would also like to thank all those in the McGill community who took the time to fill out the survey. Thanks also to Eric Anderson who participated in the lively discussions and provided feedback on the new model and terminology proposed in this study. We express our gratitude to the McGill Sustainability Projects Fund for providing funding for this project. Finally we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback.

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Correspondence to Ahmed M. El-Geneidy.

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Jacques, C., Manaugh, K. & El-Geneidy, A.M. Rescuing the captive [mode] user: an alternative approach to transport market segmentation. Transportation 40, 625–645 (2013).

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  • Market segmentation
  • Captive user
  • Choice user
  • Mode choice
  • Travel behaviour
  • Active transport