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Crowding in Public Transport: Objective and Subjective Measures


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Crowding in public transport is becoming a growing concern as demand grows at a rate that is outstripping available capacity. To capture the user benefits associated with reduced crowding from improved public transport, it is necessary to identify the relevant dimensions of crowding that are meaningful measures of what crowding means to travelers. There are a number of objective and subjective measures of crowding promoted in the literature, with some objective measures being used as the basis of a standard of acceptable levels of practice. There is a disconnection between objective measures and subjective measures, the latter representing what matters to users. We illustrate the difference in a comparison of monitored crowding levels using crowding measures defined by the rail operator/authority in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and the level of crowding experienced by rail passengers from two recent surveys to reveal the significant gap between objective and subjective measures of crowding.

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