Perception and Evaluation of Waiting Times at Stations of Netherlands Railways (NS)



Perception and Evaluation of Waiting Times at Stations of Netherlands Railways (NS)

Authors

M van Hagen, M Galetzka, A Pruyn, NS, NL

Description

This study underlines that through the creation of an attractive waiting environment at stations and the supply of convenience stores, the value of waiting time can be enhanced.

Abstract

In western society time pressure is becoming more and more important in daily life of many people. Travel time is often seen as wasted time and people involved in transport organizations make a great effort in speeding up travel times. Examples are enhancing the capacity of (rail)roads, increasing the frequency of trains, enhancing the mean speed of trains, reducing the interchange time and so on. Literature on the value of (travel) time suggests that waiting is seen as the most annoying time and people perceive time to pass slower then it actually does. When people have nothing to do while waiting, their mind will be focused on the passing of time and they will get annoyed and bored, known in the literature as ?a watched pot never boils?. This feeling will be stronger when they have important things to do in advance. Reducing the actual wait will have an effect on the travel time ánd on the appreciation of the service. Besides that, we expect when people can wait in an attractive ambience they will feel better and they will perceive time to pass faster. It is possible to change the appreciation of the waiting time by making the waiting environment more attractive. When people can use their time while traveling in a useful or pleasantly way, time seems less useless and customers? quality perception of the total service will enhance. Customers can spend their time in a useful way, e.g. by buying groceries or something to eat or drink at the station. Or they can use their time in a pleasant way e.g. when they can wait in an attractive environment where there is a lot of distraction of the passing of the waiting time.
Through the creation of an attractive waiting environment at stations and the supply of convenience stores, the value of waiting time can be enhanced.
In the present study, customers? behavior was inconspicuously observed in four railway stations. Fifty students of the University Twente recorded the activities of 130 railway customers. The students also recorded the total time customers spent at the railway station, and more specifically the exact time they used for their activities. We observed the activities of customers at the platform, in normal situations and under conditions of train delay. When the observed travelers mounted their train they were asked to fill out a questionnaire while traveling by train. In the questionnaire, respondents were asked how long they thought they had waited at the platform, what they did think about the stations ambience and how they felt while waiting. In this way it is possible to assess if people perceive waiting time longer than the actual waiting time and how they felt emotionally during the wait (for instance happy or agitated). When finished, the students collected the inquiries and returned to the station to observe another customer. To estimate the difference between actual and subjectively perceived waiting time we needed to record the perceived waiting time and emotions right after people had left the platform.
Analyses show that people indeed perceived waiting at the platform longer than they actually waited up to two times the actual wait. When trains are delayed, the overestimation was greatest. People think that the waiting environment is grey, unpleasant, little pleasing and crowded at one station. Overall, people reported little emotional feelings while waiting. However, they also indicated to feel very alert, attentive, active, determined and strong. It seems that people while waiting are very focused on the arriving of their train and are anxious to miss any information that will make miss their train. In a delayed situation people are, as expected, more irritated and have a more negative evaluation of the total service.

Publisher

Association for European Transport