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Modal image: candidate drivers of preference differences for BRT and LRT

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The physical image of transport systems, as perceived by users and non users, has long been put forward as a powerful influence on the formation of preferences. One setting for this is in the choice between bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail transit (LRT) where there appears to be a strong preference in favour of LRT in developed countries and the reverse in developing countries. Using data collected in six capital cities in Australia in 2013, in which individuals rated two BRT and two LRT designs presented as physical images, we develop a full rank mixed logit model to identify candidate sources of influence on image preferences. These provide signals to assist in preparing the ground for a segmented profile for policy makers and politicians to understand how to underpin building a rational debate for modal options in our cities.

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  1. Ties can easily be accommodated.

  2. We investigated latent class models, scaled MNL, and exploded random parameter logit, but none of these model forms were a statistical improvement over MMNL.

  3. The other data available was whether full time, part time employed, student, retired, hours worked per week, gender, number of adults and number of children in household.

  4. The Cholesky decomposition matrix is a lower triangular matrix (meaning the upper off-diagonal elements of the matrix are all zero). When we have more than one random parameter and we permit correlated random parameters then the standard deviations are no longer independent. To assess this we have to decompose the standard deviation parameters into their attribute-specific and attribute-interaction standard deviations. Cholesky decomposition is the method used to do this. The mixed logit model is extended to accommodate this case by allowing the set of random parameters to have an unrestricted covariance matrix. The nonzero off-diagonal element of this matrix carries the cross-parameter correlations.

  5. In various seminars, Hensher has suggested a name change to ‘Dedicated Corridor Rapid Transit’ (DCRT) in order to emphasise the key features of the modal service, avoiding the use of the word ‘bus’.


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Research funded under the Australian Research Council Discovery Program grant DP0770618 and the Volvo Research and Education Foundation Bus Rapid Transit Centre of Excellence. We acknowledge the Foundation for funding support and the contribution of John Rose and Jun Zhang of ITLS to the overall study. The comments of two referees and Tom van Vuren have materially improved this paper.

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Correspondence to David A. Hensher.

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Hensher, D.A., Mulley, C. Modal image: candidate drivers of preference differences for BRT and LRT. Transportation 42, 7–23 (2015).

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