To Bus or Not to Bus: Structural Equation Modelling of Ridership Perceptions among University Students as a Planning Tool to Increase Use of Public Transit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Ming Min Goh
Kim Irvine
Meng Ieng Ung


Reintroduction of Phnom Penh’s City Bus in 2014 has encountered challenges related to active ridership and costs, which have raised concerns over future viability of the system. A successful public transportation system is an essential component of a liveable, smart, and sustainable city, but what are the barriers to improved performance of Phnom Penh’s City Bus programme? The purpose of this paper is to elucidate factors influencing bus-riding behaviour and suggest policy and planning actions that could increase ridership. Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) as an overarching guide and structural equation modelling (SEM) as the primary method of analysis, we explored ridership perceptions of 324 university students in Phnom Penh. We focused on this segment of the city’s population as they are highly mobile, tend to be sustainability- conscious, and are predisposed to non-physical, digital, planning strategies. The SEM results indicated that the factors of timeliness and general safety and comfort onboard are significant predictors of attitudes towards bus ridership. Beyond service attributes, a broader SEM analysis of behavioural intentions suggested that subjective norms (perceived social pressure from important referents), personal norms (self-based moral obligation), and positive anticipated emotion (prospects of affective response to performance of behaviour) are significant factors in predicting bus-riding behaviour among university students. Using the results of the SEM analysis, both physical (e.g., bus priority lanes, enhanced walkways and bus stops) and non-physical, information technology alternatives are suggested to enhance bus ridership.


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