Transit user perceptions of driverless buses

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a stated preference survey of regular transit users’ willingness to ride and concerns about driverless buses in the Philadelphia region. As automated technologies advance, driverless buses may offer significant efficiency, safety, and operational improvements over traditional bus services. However, unfamiliarity with automated vehicle technology may challenge its acceptance among the general public and slow the adoption of new technologies. Using a mixed logit modeling framework, this research examines which types of transit users are most willing to ride in driverless buses and whether having a transit employee on board to monitor the vehicle operations and/or provide customer service matters. Of the 891 surveyed members of University of Pennsylvania’s transit pass benefit program, two-thirds express a willingness to ride in a driverless bus when a transit employee is on board to monitor vehicle operations and provide customer service. By contrast, only 13% would agree to ride a bus without an employee on board. Males and those in younger age groups (18–34) are more willing to ride in driverless buses than females and those in older age groups. Findings suggest that, so long as a transit employee is onboard, many transit passengers will willingly board early generation automated buses. An abrupt shift to buses without employees on board, by contrast, will likely alienate many transit users.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation, a U.S. Department of Transportation University Research Center, also supported this research.

Authors’ contribution

XD: Literature review support, modeling and statistical analysis, writing and editing. MD: Design and management of survey, literature review, writing and editing. EG: Research design support, development of modeling framework, writing and editing.

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Correspondence to Xiaoxia Dong.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table with full list of predictor variables included in the final models

Variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Coefficients (SE) Coefficients (SE) Coefficients (SE)
Uncertain
Male 0.193 (0.135) 0.875 (0.228)*** 0.386 (0.215)
Income $50,000–$99,999 0.272 (0.179) 0.502 (0.265) 0.304 (0.266)
Income >$100,000 0.193 (0.186) 0.575 (0.282)* 0.170 (0.283)
Age 35–44 0.293 (0.166) 0.203 (0.259) 0.436 (0.264)
Age > 45 −0.403 (0.151)** −0.923 (0.242)*** −0.718 (0.239)**
Bus usage <2 days per week 0.403 (0.123)** 0.687 (0.196)*** 0.655 (0.197)***
Transit usage < everyday 0.179 (0.164) 0.276 (0.242) 0.366 (0.244)
Employee monitoring operations and providing customer services Not included 1.781 (0.299)*** 1.770 (0.298)***
Employee providing customer service but not necessarily monitoring operations Not included 2.774 (0.345)*** 2.805 (0.343)***
Have heard of automated vehicle Not included Not included 0.541 (0.237)*
Concern about vehicle safety Not included Not included −2.266 (0.393)***
Concern about lack of assistance for disabled passengers Not included Not included −0.709 (0.206)***
Concern about access to information Not included Not included −0.528 (0.205)**
Intercept −0.648 (0.170)*** −2.336 (0.327)*** −0.075 (0.435)
Willing
Male 0.756 (0.126)*** 2.173 (0.276)*** 1.019 (0.260)***
Income $50,000–$99,999 0.186 (0.166) 0.512 (0.330) 0.228 (0.327)
Income >$100,000 0.379 (0.171)* 1.108 (0.351)** 0.325 (0.347)
Age 35–44 −0.293 (0.161) −0.886 (0.349)* −0.451 (0.341)
Age > 45 −0.554 (0.140)*** −1.595 (0.299)*** −1.262 (0.291)***
Bus usage < 2 days per week 0.200 (0.117) 0.540 (0.250)* 0.465 (0.247)
Transit usage < Everyday 0.053 (0.161) 0.117 (0.314) 0.425 (0.306)
Employee monitoring operations and providing customer services Not included 4.860 (0.368)*** 4.760 (0.365)***
Employee providing customer service but not necessarily monitoring operations Not included 4.451 (0.389)*** 4.551 (0.388)***
Have heard of automated vehicle Not included Not included 1.025 (0.308)***
Concern about vehicle safety Not included Not included −5.914 (0.451)***
Concern about lack of assistance for disabled passengers Not included Not included −0.812 (0.251)**
Concern about access to information Not included Not included −0.943 (0.255)***
Intercept −0.173 (0.151) −5.158 (0.454)*** 0.246 (0.517)
R 2 0.045 0.258 0.296
Log Likelihood −2782 −2161 −2049
Significance levels ‘***’0.001 ‘**’0.01 ‘*’0.05

Predicted responses from model 3 for all variables under different demographic characteristics, transit usage, and employee presence

Variables Unwilling (%) Uncertain (%) Willing (%)
All male 33.1 26.0 40.9
All female 37.3 27.8 34.9
All frequent bus riders 38.6 24.4 36.9
All infrequent bus riders 34.0 29.3 36.7
All frequent transit riders 36.5 26.9 36.6
All infrequent transit riders 33.6 28.6 37.8
All have heard of AV 34.9 27.3 37.8
None has heard of AV 40.1 27.1 32.8
All between age 18 and 34 33.6 25.3 41.1
All between age 35 and 44 31.9 33.6 34.5
All over age 45 40.2 24.6 35.2
Everyone has income below $50 K 37.6 26.2 36.2
Everyone has income between $50 and 100 K 35.4 28.4 36.1
Everyone has income over $100 K 36.0 26.3 37.8
There is an employee onboard in all scenarios 26.1 31.2 42.7
There is no employee onboard in any scenario 54.3 23.7 22.0
There is no employee onboard to monitor and provide customer service in any scenarios 21.6 20.9 57.5
Everyone is concerned about vehicle safety 42.4 32.6 25.0
No one is concerned about vehicle safety 40.4 30.0 29.6
Everyone is concerned about lack of assistance 16.8 15.7 67.6
No one is concerned about lack of assistance 38.7 25.6 35.7
Everyone is concerned about access to info 33.1 28.9 38.0
Not concerned about access to info 38.9 27.0 34.1
There is no employee onboard to monitor and provide customer service in any scenarios 34.0 27.4 38.6

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Dong, X., DiScenna, M. & Guerra, E. Transit user perceptions of driverless buses. Transportation 46, 35–50 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11116-017-9786-y

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Keywords

  • Automated vehicles
  • Driverless buses
  • Mixed logit
  • Stated preference survey
  • Willingness to ride