Becker, Jan U. and Sönke Albers

The limits of analyzing service quality data in public transport

Transportation, 43 (5): 842-823, (2016).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s11116-015-9621-2

Abstract: In recent years, management and academics have increasingly focused on quality management in public transport. In particular, many public transport operators regularly monitor their service quality over time and use these data to assess quality performance (e.g., for performance-based quality contracts) and to determine managerial decisions (e.g., budget allocations for service improvements). However, despite the widespread applications of service quality data in practice, it is unclear whether cross-sectional analyses and cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data provide valid insights for quality management purposes. In this study, we investigate the usability of cross-sectional analyses and cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data by conducting an empirical study that tracked a panel’s perceptions of the service quality of public transport and its choice over the course of three consecutive years. The results demonstrate that cross-sectional analyses provide valid insights for quality management. However, cross-temporal comparisons should be interpreted carefully because the results of these comparisons are surprisingly unreliable. In fact, we find that service quality data do not provide reliable results over time and therefore conclude that cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data must be interpreted with caution for quality management in public transport.

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