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Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144


An investigation of the relationship between public

transport performance and destination satisfaction
Karen Thompson


, Peter Schoeld


Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow GL4 0LG, UK
Management and Management Sciences Research Institute, University of Salford, Salford M6 6PU, UK

The availability and perceived quality of local transport at tourist destinations has latterly been established as exercising an inuence
on visitor experience, overall satisfaction and repeat visitation. The dimensions of urban public transport performance used by overseas
visitors to evaluate quality and their relative contribution to overall destination satisfaction are investigated by this paper for the case of
Greater Manchester. It is concluded that the inuence of public transports ease of use on destination satisfaction is greater than the
inuence of eciency and safety. Overall, however, perceived performance of the public transport system has only a minor inuence
on destination satisfaction.
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Public transport; Destination satisfaction; Performance measurement; Urban tourism; Service quality

1. Introduction
Studies of urban public transport service quality and
performance from the passenger perspective typically focus
on the attitudes of local users regarding the adequacy of
existing public transport provision. Whilst these studies
are productive in achieving their aim of informing the quality provision of urban public transport, there has so far
been limited attention to the attitudes and experiences of
visitors to urban destinations with regard to public transport provision. Within the tourism literature, there has
been some recognition of the inuence of public transport,
in terms of its availability and suitability for use by visitors,
on both the visitor experience of a destination and its perceived attractiveness. Laws (1995), writing on the attractiveness of a tourist area, identied transport as one of
the secondary destination features which contribute to
the attractiveness of a destination. Equally, transport is

Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 141 548 4801; fax: +44 141 552 2870.
E-mail addresses: karen.thompson@strath.ac.uk (K. Thompson),
p.schoeld@salford.ac.uk (P. Schoeld).
Tel.: +44 161 295 4579; fax: +44 161 295 2020.
0966-6923/$ - see front matter 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

repeatedly identied as one of the key elements of the overall tourism product at a destination (Jansen-Verbeke, 1986,
1988; Gunn, 1988; Middleton, 1998; Page, 2004).
Thus, the urban tourism product is made up of a range
of goods and services, of which transport is one, and which
together form the visitor experience. Where an urban
destination wishes to benet from tourism, improved
provision of touristic goods and services can strengthen
competitive advantage (Suh and Gartner, 2004). Indeed
for former industrial cities, which have sought to use tourism as a tool for regeneration, the absence of conventional,
heritage-based tourism resources potentially renders the
provision of excellence in other elements of the tourism
product more important. Where the goal of urban tourism
planning is to foster greater dispersal of the benets of
tourism throughout the city, the role of the transport network may indeed be critical (Evans and Shaw, 2002).
Within this competitive market, demand for customer centred service delivery systems may be an important factor in
inuencing the use of local transport services by tourists
(Page, 1999). However, tourism planners seldom have a
signicant inuence on public transport planning, which
tends to be founded on local population densities and

K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

needs rather than visitor numbers and requirements, other

than where a high ratio of visitors to residents is the norm
or in the case of large scale events. Urban public transport
systems may therefore not be ideal for visitor use in terms
of their frequency and route coverage (Law, 2002). Orbasli
and Shaw (2004) stress that local transport needs should
indeed take precedence over tourist needs, however they
concede that consideration of the transportation requirements of visitors to the city requires further attention.
2. Transport and destination satisfaction
Page (1999) bemoans the lack of understanding of the
relationship between tourism and transport within the context of the tourist experience. Notwithstanding the lack of
detailed research in this area, the role of internal accessibility in destination quality is increasingly being accepted (e.g.
ETC, 2001). Further, the contribution of transport, as a
secondary destination feature, to destination image and
visitor satisfaction is a subject which has been commented
on within the scope of wider studies of the destination
experience. Vetter (1985), for example, in an early study
of the attributes of urban destinations which render them
attractive to visitors, listed the adequacy of the transport
system as one of ten aspects of cities which are extremely
important to tourists, claiming that the adequacy of a citys
transport system contributes to its attractiveness and overall image. Although not based on any empirical research
and lacking a denition of what constitutes the transport
system, his view was supported by Haywood and Muller
(1988, p. 456) who concluded, after a review of criteria
for touristic attractiveness and city liveability measures,
that ease of nding and reaching places within the city
was a salient attribute of visitors assessment of the quality
of the urban tourism experience.
The ability of tourist dedicated transport, as dened by
Hall (1999), to add to the attraction and enjoyment of a
destination is evident, since this type of transport is often
intended as an attraction and consumed by the tourist
for its own sake. Examples include such forms of transport
as steam railways and open top bus tours. Indeed, various
authors have drawn attention to the ways in which transport can become an enjoyable feature of the tourist experience, citing such examples as water buses and boat trips
(Law, 2002) and heritage forms of transport Pearce
(2001). However, detailed investigation of how transport
which is not dedicated to tourist use inuences the tourist
experience remains limited.
Visitor experiences at destinations and their overall satisfaction levels are routinely measured using structured methods such as attribute-based models, which measure the
importance and/or performance of a range of tangible and
intangible elements of the tourism product at a destination.
Kozak and Rimmington (1998) note that, whilst there is no
denitive list of the attributes that contribute to destination
attractiveness, they can be classied into ve subheadings
on the basis of previous literature reviews of destination


choice, image and tourist satisfaction, namely attractions,

facilities, infrastructure, hospitality and cost. Within these
ve categories, Kozak and Rimmington (1998) note that
transport related attributes typically include those relating
to transportation costs and transport nodes such as airports
and bus stations. But it is beyond the scope of destination
satisfaction studies to investigate the detail of public transport performance from the visitor perspective, in terms of
the relevant constituent dimensions and attributes.
Nonetheless, several recent studies have found the
availability and performance of transport to be a salient
attribute of overall destination satisfaction and/or destination choice, using a range of methods. In comparing the
eectiveness of qualitative and quantitative techniques of
measuring the importance and performance of a range of
destination attributes, Pritchard and Havitz (2006) found
that, for the case of Western Australia, transportation
was the second most important, yet the most poorly
perceived in terms of performance of the 13 attributes
measured.2 Danaher and Arweiler (1996), meanwhile,
measured tourists perceptions of the performance of transport modes within New Zealand, including plane, public
bus, train, bus tours and hire car, concluding, on the basis
of a principal components regression analysis, that overall
satisfaction with transportation did not have a signicant
impact on overall destination satisfaction or likelihood of
recommending New Zealand as a destination. However,
satisfaction with transport was not measured on the basis
of transport attributes, but of overall satisfaction with each
mode used. A further nding indicated that satisfaction
with bus and rental car modes had the strongest relationship with over-all satisfaction with transportation. Since
Danaher and Arweilers (1996) work was conducted at
country level, however, it reects visitor attitudes to longer
distance, as well as local transport.
Weiermair and Fuchs (1999) employed linear regression
and Sirgys congruity model of customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction to conrm the existence of a linear relationship
between an overall measure of destination quality at alpine
ski resorts and the partial judgments of the quality of a
number of tourist activity domains, of which transportation
counted as one. However, satisfaction with both internal
and external accessibility was measured as part of this transportation activity domain (Weiermair and Fuchs, 1999)
and, whereas for the majority of other tourism activity
domains either method yielded the same ranking, for the
transportation activity domain, rankings diverged for each
of the methods, an anomaly which the authors do not
elucidate. A later study of UK tourists visiting Majorca
and Turkey by Kozak (2001a) equally found transport to
represent a key underlying dimension of destination satisfaction, in as much as the perception of its quality aected
The 13 attributes measured were food & restaurants, accommodation,
transportation, shopping, recreation, tourist information, ora and fauna,
natural scenery, local people, historic sites, local amenities, cultural
activities and weather.


K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

the overall experience of the destination. Principal components analysis on a list of attributes representing likes and
dislikes and reasons for visiting coastal destinations found
that the quality of local transportation services and destination airport services accounted for two of eight factors
delineated in the case of both destinations. Whilst they
failed to establish, through stepwise regression, that either
of these factors on their own was a signicant indicator of
intention to revisit the same destination, they did nd that
the availability of these transport services had a signicant
inuence on intention to revisit other destinations in the
same country. Moreover, Kozak (2002) also found statistically signicant dierences in levels of satisfaction with local
transport services between visitors to Majorca and Turkey
to be greater than on any of the other seven factors. However, it should be noted that Kozak (2001a) established
overall satisfaction with the holiday experience to be the
strongest predictor of likelihood of revisiting both the same
destination, and other destinations within the same country,
and it is the role of transport within this overall level of satisfaction with which this paper is concerned.
In the case of urban destinations, Avgoustis and Achanca (2002) found the availability of local transportation
services to be rated fourth in importance for visitors to
Indianapolis, out of fourteen attributes used to measure
destination satisfaction. Moreover, the same study identied local transportation services as one of four attributes
which possessed an above average ability to inuence destination choice. The performance of transport related attributes such as ease of getting around the city, and
accessibility of the city have also been measured in other
studies of urban destination satisfaction (Bakucz, 2002;
Freytag, 2002). Indeed Qu and Li (1997) went into further
detail by measuring satisfaction levels of mainland Chinese
visitors to Hong Kong with a number of aspects of public
transportation including variety of choices, convenience,
cleanliness, comfort and eciency and cost.
Whilst the above studies have provided some evidence
that local transport is a contributing factor to destination
satisfaction, none have attempted to investigate in detail
the specic attributes and dimensions of public transport
performance which inuence visitor satisfaction levels with
the destination, and the relative inuence of these dimensions on overall satisfaction with the destination. There is
therefore clear scope for further work in this area, towards
which end, it is rst of all necessary to identify the attributes of public transport which are recognised to constitute
transport quality and are regularly used in the measurement of urban public transport performance.
3. Measuring public transport performance
Whilst the internal quality of a public transport service
can be measured on the basis of whether hard performance
targets, often set by the service provider, have been met, a
measure of true quality relies on eliciting customer perceptions of the performance of the service and is considered

more dicult to measure (Kordupleski et al., 1993; Sliva

and Stewart-David, 2002). A further distinction between
hard and soft attributes of transport quality is made
by Harrison et al. (1998, p. 225) who dene hard quality
attributes as those which are more readily quantiable
(e.g. access time) and soft elements as non-journey time
attributes such as information provision, sta attitude
and vehicle comfort. Thus, in a similar way to destination
satisfaction, public transport performance is frequently
measured on the basis of passengers perceptions of a number of attributes of the service. Pullen (1991) concluded,
after extensively reviewing the literature on measuring public transport performance, that there was a distinct lack of
standardisation in the denition of the attributes which
comprise public transport performance, and argued for
improved denition and clarication of these attributes.
The lack of clarity may be partly attributed to the fact that
much, although by no means all, investigation into public
transport performance is conducted under contract to
public transport operators and therefore lies outwith both
public and academic domains. Ongoing debate over the
relationship between perceived performance, customer satisfaction and service quality further obscures the picture.
Indeed Hensher et al. (2003) describe the identication of
the dimensions of public transport service quality as perceived by passengers as one of the key challenges of measuring service quality.
Useful information on the attributes of public transport
performance regularly employed by transport operators in
measuring the true quality of public transport can be
found in the reports of two major European projects on
public transport benchmarking which produced lists of
internal and true quality indicators for urban public transport (Quattro, 1998; Equip, 2000). However, both of these
projects have focussed on performance attributes determined by public transport operators, rather than from
the consumer perspective. Latterly, though, a number of
studies of public transport quality have taken a more bottom-up, customer oriented approach to scrutinising the
performance attributes that contribute to customers satisfaction with public transport. These studies are of particular relevance to the current study and a review therefore
follows below. It should be noted that, whilst some of the
studies focus on the public transport network in general,
others concentrate on only one mode of public transport.
The work of Swanson et al. (1997) used protocol analysis to establish the factors of importance to travellers during bus journeys, the improvement of which would make
the service more attractive to both users and non-users.
A total of thirty performance attributes were organised
into eight stages of the bus journey and included tangible
attributes such as cleanliness and design of vehicles and
shelters, as well as intangible attributes such as the helpfulness of the driver. A monetary valuation was calculated for
each attribute using stated preference techniques. The
resulting valuations show that the attributes of public
transport for which customers would be most willing to

K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

pay were information at the bus stop and clean stops and
vehicles. By contrast, reducing journey time was not a high
priority for bus users.
A later study, Prioni and Hensher (2000) summarised
bus performance attributes employed in a series of previous
studies (Hensher, 1991; Brewer and Hensher, 1997; Swanson et al., 1997) and organised these into six quality dimensions relating to aspects of the journey: accessing the bus
stop, wait time, trip, vehicle, driver and information. Prioni
and Hensher (2000) attempted to quantify bus travellers
preferences for dierent levels of performance using
revealed preference and stated preference techniques, in
order to identify the contribution of each performance attribute to overall quality of service. Their ndings suggest, in
contrast to Swanson et al. (1997), that bus stop infrastructure does not have an important inuence on quality of service. Developing their work further, Hensher et al. (2003)
shed greater light on the importance of attributes of bus
performance in creating satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Travel time and fare were found to have the greatest inuence
on negative satisfaction, whereas frequency and ease of getting a seat were found to be the greatest sources of positive
satisfaction. Whilst results diered across geographic bus
service segments, cleanliness and driver friendliness were
found to have limited relevance across all segments; their
suitability as performance attributes in measuring service
quality is therefore questioned by the authors.
A further study of interest used a distinctive approach,
arguing that negative critical incidents have a greater
impact on customer perceptions of service quality than
positive critical incidents and therefore attempting to identify performance attributes through passenger complaints
(Friman et al., 1998). Negative critical incidents were found
to fall into seven categories, consistent across three dierent critical incident techniques: treatment and action, punctuality, information, technical malfunction, vehicle design
and space, transport planning and other. Friman et al.
(1998) note that the large majority of complaints pertained
to customers treatment by sta and sta response to negative critical incidents. The most important dimensions of
public transport quality were found to be employee behaviour, reliability (e.g. punctuality) and simplicity (information). In a later study, a fourth dimension relating to
comfort, security and cleanliness (labelled design) was
substantiated (Friman et al., 2001).
The above review has established a number of salient
attributes and dimensions of public transport performance,
quality and satisfaction which provide an insight into how
overseas visitors may measure public transport performance. In addition to the key attributes of travel time and
fare, attributes pertaining to customer care, reliability (especially punctuality), information provision, cleanliness, comfort and security are also conrmed as being important
measures of performance. However, the studies measuring
public transport performance have not adequately distinguished between frequent and infrequent users or business
and leisure users and it therefore remains unclear, whether


overseas visitors might be aected by personal and/or external factors, such as language diculties or lack of local
knowledge, which may lead them to engage dierent or additional performance attributes. Findings from a study by
Paine et al. (1969) support the hypothesis that leisure and
business users of public transport rate quality attributes differently on their importance, if not their performance. Hensher et al.s (2003) nding that travel time makes a signicant
contribution to negative satisfaction, may be less likely to
apply to the leisure visitor, for whom travel time may be a
less signicant attribute of a satisfactory journey than the
ability to engage in sightseeing during the trip. Moreover,
the accessibility of the urban tourism product potentially
acquires a high level of signicance in the measurement of
transport performance. Visitors may place a particularly
high value on knowledgeable transport employees who are
not only familiar with the route, but can also advise on connections to other modes of transport and access to visitor
attractions. They may thus experience higher levels of dissatisfaction both with public transport and the destination
where this minimum requirement is not present.
Performance measurement has been the subject of considerable debate in terms of the comparative analysis of
models using expectations-performance, importanceperformance and performance-only visitor satisfaction
constructs (Kozak, 2001b). The intuitive appeal and
widespread use of the (dis)conrmation approach i.e. the
expectations-performance construct and the diagnostic
value of the importance-performance design notwithstanding, the performance-only model represents the
winning ticket with respect to predictive validity. A number of studies on camp sites (Dorfman, 1979; Fick and
Ritchie, 1991), events (Crompton and Love, 1995), restaurants (Yuksel and Rimmington, 1998) and visitor destinations (Fallon and Schoeld, 2004) have demonstrated the
superiority of the performance-only conceptualisation
over the other models. The performance-only model was
therefore used to examine overseas visitors perceptions
of urban public transport quality and the contribution of
relevant performance dimensions to their overall satisfaction with the destination. Thus, the two key objectives of
the paper were:
1. to identify the salient dimensions of public transport
performance from the perspective of overseas visitors;
2. to identify which dimensions of public transport performance, if any, have a predictive eect on destination

4. Methodology
4.1. Measurement instrument
Whilst the transport literature discussed in Section 3
above allowed the identication of a core list of attributes


K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

used to measure public transport performance, the absence

of prior research specically involving overseas visitors, or
on the use of public transport for leisure purposes argued
for an initial qualitative phase to the research. Semi-structured interview techniques were therefore employed with
an opportunistic sample of respondents in order to establish the performance factors which overseas visitors use
to measure satisfaction with urban public transport. Overseas respondents were interviewed about their transport
experiences within the region served by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. In the hope of increasing the generalisabilty of the model across urban
destinations, UK respondents were also asked to convey
their public transport experiences at an urban destination
from which they had just returned. The resulting issues
were developed into statements within multiple-item scales
including, inter alia, a set of performance attributes on
which the quality of urban public transport is thought to
be evaluated by overseas visitors. Whilst there was overlap
between this set of performance attributes, and those identied in the review of literature on measuring public transport performance, some attributes emerged which were
clearly specic to visitors, such as the ease of access of visitor attractions by public transport. Three items were
included relating to the ease, cost and safety of parking
in Manchester, partly because they had emerged strongly
from the interviews as items aecting modal choice and
transport satisfaction, but also for control purposes.
The questionnaire was rened further by piloting on a
group of overseas students taking a summer course in English as a foreign language at a UK University. A substantial number of changes were made to the questionnaire as
a result of the pilot study. Crucially, the questionnaire
had to be reduced in length. In addition, diculties experienced by the pilot cohort in completing the questionnaire
were noted and a number of aspects (mainly vocabulary
items) were changed as a result. Modications were made
to areas where there was a high rate of non-completion.
A subsequent, larger scale, self-complete, questionnaire
survey of overseas visitors to Greater Manchester was conducted on a random intercept basis at a purposive sample
of tourist sites throughout Greater Manchester, chosen to
represent a range of distances from the city centre and levels of accessibility by public transport modes. Due to the
low number of visitors from overseas and a high level of
cooperation from sta at the sample sites, it was possible
to target all overseas visitors to the sites over period of
the survey, which corresponded with the peak summer visitation period. Respondents were asked, inter alia, to comment on the performance of the eighteen performance
attributes elicited from the interview data. Responses were
measured on a 7-point Likert scale with seven indicating
the highest level of agreement with the statements on the
performance of Greater Manchesters public transport.
Subjects overall satisfaction with the three modes of public
transport operating in Manchester (bus, train and Metrolink lightrail) and the destination were also measured on

7-point Likert scales. All seven items on each scale were

clearly labelled and numbered to increase the validity and
reliability of the instrument.
4.2. Demographic characteristics of sample
A total of 280 responses were obtained from overseas
leisure visitors to Manchester over a period of several
weeks across a number of survey sites. Fifty six percent
of respondents were male and 44% female, with the majority of respondents (73%) being under 35 years old, a gure
not unrepresentative of Manchesters visitor market, by
virtue of its vibrant night-time entertainment. Students
were the largest single group in the distribution of respondents according to occupation and Spanish visitors were
better represented than any other nationality, accounting
for 20% of those sampled.
4.3. Analysis
The data were analysed using SPSS Version 13.0. The
distribution of the continuous variables having been rigorously explored, a factor analysis, was conducted using principal components as the method of extraction, with oblique
rotation, with aim of reducing the items to a set of delineated dimensions of public transport performance. Principal components analysis was selected as an appropriate
strategy where there are no a priori hypotheses about the
components (factors) and as a useful exploratory method
of revealing the probable number and nature of factors
in the set of variables (Tabachnik and Fidell, 1996). All
factors with eigenvalues greater than or equal to 1.0 were
considered signicant and thus retained (Kaiser, 1974).
Kaisers criterion is accurate when the sample size exceeds
250 and the average communality is greater than or equal
to 0.6 (Field, 2000). The determinant of the correlation
matrix (0.027), the KaiserMeyerOlkin (KMO) measure
of sampling adequacy (0.71) and the Bartletts test of sphericity (v2(55) = 132.18; p < 0.001), conrmed the factorability of the correlation matrix. The minimum coecient
for factor items to be included in the nal scale was 0.40
as recommended by Stevens (1994) for the sample size. A
reliability coecient (Cronbachs alpha) was calculated
for each factor to estimate the reliability of each extracted
dimension. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was
carried out to establish the predictive ability of the factors
over the variable measuring overall destination satisfaction.
5. Findings
5.1. Use of modes of transport
The vast majority of overseas visitors to Greater Manchester (87%) had arrived in the UK by air with only 3%
of visitors arriving by car. When asked whether they had
a car at their disposal during their stay in Greater Man-

K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

Table 1
Mode of transport used by overseas visitors to greater manchester during
Mode of transport

Percentage of overseas visitors

having used mode of transport

Metrolink (Tram)
Own car
Hire car
Private coach


N.B. Multiple response. Total is greater than 100%.

chester, 75.2% of respondents said no. Thus, three quarters

of the respondents could be classied as captive public
transport users (Hovell et al., 1975). Respondents were further asked to provide information on the modes of transport they had used during their stay in Greater
Manchester. More respondents had used the bus than
any other form of transport (29%). All of the modes of
public transport (bus, train and tram) had been used by
more respondents than private modes (car and coach).
These gures, illustrated in Table 1, conrm the importance of public transport for overseas visitors travelling
around Manchester.
5.2. Performance dimensions
Data reduction techniques were employed to explore the
underlying dimensions of the 18 performance attributes.
Two items, parking in Manchester is expensive and some
areas of Manchester which I would like to travel to are difcult to reach were deleted because of their low correlations (<0.3) with other items in the scale and their
insignicant loadings on any of the extracted factors. An
initial factor analysis was performed on the remaining 16
variables in the scale using principal components (PCA)
as the method of extraction and oblique rotation with Kaiser normalization, because the factors were considered to
be related in theoretical terms and orthogonal rotation produced inter-factor correlations ranging from 0.2 to 0.7
(Pedhazur and Schmelkin, 1991). This produced ve factors which explained 65.31% of the variance in the data.
Cronbachs alpha values for Factors 4 (0.26) and 5 (0.47)
were below 0.6 and therefore unreliable (Kline, 1994); the
ve associated variables (three for factor 4 and two for factor 5) were removed and a second PCA was performed on
the remaining 11 variables; the results are given in Table 2.
A three factor solution was produced which explained
63.56% of the total variance. Factor 1 (0.85 alpha) explains
30.32% of the variance; it loads on ve variables and
reects overall ease of use regarding planning, ticket purchase, assistance and travel. Factor 2 (0.83 alpha) explains
20.46% of the variance and loads on two cognitive and two


aective variables that explain eciency and safety respectively. Factor 3 (0.84 alpha) explains 12.79% of the variance; it loads on the two variables that represent the ease
and safety of parking a car in Manchester and as such it
was labelled good parking. Factor scores were calculated
using the AndersonRubin method to ensure least possible
5.3. Predictive eect on destination satisfaction
A multiple regression analysis was subsequently carried
out, with overall destination satisfaction as the dependent
variable and the three factors as independent variables, in
order to establish whether any of the above factors possesses predictive power over destination satisfaction. A
number of cases were excluded from the analysis as they
did not have complete data for one of the variables. Nonetheless, a sample size of 275 with three predictor variables
is considered able to detect relationships with R2 values of
approximately 5% at a power of 0.80 at the 95% signicance level (Hair et al., 1998). Assumptions of normality,
linearity and homoscedasticity were tested. Examination
of the residuals did not show any non-linear pattern and
indicated that the assumption of homoscedasticity had
been met. The Durbin Watson statistic (1.90) conrmed
the independence of errors. Some outliers were present,
but their number was considered acceptable for the sample
size and Mahalanobis and Cooks distance statistics did
not provide any evidence of inuential cases (Barnett and
Lewis, 1978; Cook and Weisberg, 1982). The largest VIF
value (1.050), the average VIF (1.04) and the tolerance
statistics (>0.95) indicated the absence of collinearity in
the data. In addition, the predictors were found to have
most of their variance loading onto dierent dimensions
The results of the regression analysis are given in Table
3. The R value of independent variables on the dependent
variable (0.21) shows that destination satisfaction is only
weakly inuenced by the factors; the value of adjusted R2
is small according to Cohens (1988) benchmarks and suggests that they account for only 4.5% of the variability in
destination satisfaction. The shrinkage between the R2
and the adjusted R2 values is 0.01, indicating that if the
model were derived from the population rather than the
sample, it would account for approximately 1.0% less variance in the outcome. The F ratio value (4.333) is signicant
(p < 0.005) indicating that the beta coecients can be used
to explain each of the factors relative contribution to the
variance in destination satisfaction, although only factor
1 (ease of use) makes a signicant contribution to the
prediction of destination satisfaction (t (275) = 2.97,
p = 0.003) and this accounts for only a small amount of
the variance in destination satisfaction. For a one unit
increase in public transports ease of use, destination satisfaction increases by only 0.18 units.
The assumptions of regression analysis were not met
for the variable overall destination satisfaction and the


K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

Table 2
Dimensions of public transport performance
Factor 1
Factor 1: Ease of use
Public transport in Manchester is easy to use
I am able to nd the information I need to make journeys by public transport
Any problems or questions I had were dealt with eectively
It is easy to buy the right ticket for your journey
Public transport sta are helpful

Factor 2


Factor 2: Eciency and safety

Public transport in Manchester is a fast way to travel
Public transport in Manchester arrives on time
Public transport vehicles in Manchester are safe
I would feel safe travelling alone on public transport in Manchester



Table 3
Regression analysis: overall satisfaction with destination
beta coecient

Factor 1: ease
of use
Factor 2:
and safety
Factor 3: good




Variance (%)
Cumulative variance (%)
Cronbachs alpha
Number of items (total = 11)













n = 275; R2 = 0.045; R2 adj. = 0.035; F = 4.333 (p = 0.005).

measures of satisfaction with the three separate modes of

public transport (bus, tram and train). This was due to
the limited number of valid cases and moderate correlations between the predictor variables. However, calculation
of the R2 values indicated that 35% of the variability in
overall destination satisfaction can be explained by satisfaction with the train, whereas satisfaction with tram and
bus explain 29% and 17% respectively of the variability in
overall destination satisfaction. It is notable that, whilst
satisfaction with the train explained the highest percent
of the variability in overall destination satisfaction of the
three modes, it was the mode with which respondents were,
on average, least satised x 4:58; s 1:60 and was
the least likely to be used on future visits to the city
x 5:31; s 1:42.
6. Discussion and conclusions
A number of similarities can be observed between the
three factor solution presented in Section 5.2 and the ndings of Friman et al. (1998). Factor 1, Ease of Use, links


Factor 3: Good parking

It is easy to park your car in Manchester
My car is safe when parked in Manchester


Factor 3




closely with the dimension of simplicity (Friman et al.,

1998) and conrms the importance of this aspect of public
transport performance for overseas visitors. However,
whilst Friman et al. (1998) established separate dimensions
for employee behaviour and simplicity of information,
there is no clear divide between these dimensions in the factor solution described above in Section 5.2. However, Friman et al. (1998) employed a manual, inductive technique
for categorising critical incidents, a method which they
admit may be unreliable due to its subjectivity. Factor 2,
Eciency and Safety, represents time and safety dimensions of public transport performance. Punctuality and
travel time have previously been shown to be salient dimensions of public transport reliability (Bradley et al., 1989;
Friman et al., 1998) and to have an inuence on satisfaction levels (Hensher et al., 2003). Security was identied
as one of the key categories of public transport quality
indicators by Quattro (1998). It did not emerge as a salient
dimension of performance from Friman et al.s (1998,
2001) studies, but surfaced strongly in the qualitative phase
of the research described here and its importance may
therefore be partially destination specic. Factor 3 relates
to private, rather than public transport. It reects the inclusion of control variables, and is unlikely to have emerged in
previous studies of local users satisfaction with public
transport. In summary, the dimensions of public transport
performance revealed by the research are moderately consistent with previous research and do not suggest any major
dierences between overseas visitors and local users with
regard to the salient dimensions of public transport
One of the underlying dimensions of public transport
performance (Ease of Use), as measured by overseas visitors to Greater Manchester, was shown to make a small
but signicant contribution to the prediction of destination

K. Thompson, P. Schoeld / Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2007) 136144

satisfaction. Satisfaction with attributes of private transport (parking) was shown not to be a signicant predictor
of destination satisfaction. Enhancing the internal accessibility of the tourism product by public transport should
therefore arguably take precedence. The ndings further
appear to indicate that the soft attributes of transport
quality (Harrison et al., 1998) are a better predictor of destination satisfaction for the case of Manchester than the
more readily quantiable hard attributes. This presents
potential diculties for the monitoring of an adequate level
of service provision in the areas of ticketing, customer service and transport information for overseas visitors to
Manchester. With regard to individual modes, although a
higher percentage of overseas visitors use the bus than
any other mode, destination satisfaction levels are less closely correlated with bus satisfaction, than with satisfaction
with other modes, possibly as a result of lower expectations
in relation to bus travel. It is therefore suggested that Manchesters rail and Metrolink systems should be the main
focus of any specic eorts to tailor public transport to
overseas visitors use in Manchester.
The paper has highlighted a number of key issues in the
provision of public transport for overseas visitors to a specic urban destination. The small but signicant role of
public transport performance as a predictor of satisfaction
with Destination Manchester has been established using an
attribute based model and statistical techniques common to
both transport and tourism research. Evidence of a link
between satisfaction with urban public transport and destination satisfaction, hypothesised within the tourism literature, has been strengthened. Moreover, the study has
conrmed the usefulness of attribute based measurement
techniques from the marketing and tourist behaviour literatures to the study of public transport SQ. Domestic visitors were excluded from this study on the basis that they
would perceive attributes of public transport performance
in a more similar way to local users. Future research should
target domestic visitors in order to test the accuracy of this
hypothesis and determine whether the measurement model
is applicable in other contexts. There is also scope for more
detailed investigation of the link between private transport
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