Codes of Conduct and Actual Behaviour in Public Transport: Results of Three Empirical Projects

Codes of Conduct and Actual Behaviour in Public Transport: Results of Three Empirical Projects


Elmar Fürst, WU Vienna


We present findings of three empirical studies on behavioural patterns of passengers in public transport and related codes of conducts implemented by public transport companies.


Contemporary societies seem to be increasingly characterised by individualism and hedonism. People sometimes forget to care about others and their properties, they lack consideration and empathy and - to say it in a rather provocative way - claim rights for themselves which they would not concede to others. Results of such developments include social deficits, extreme frustration and self-centredness. Fortunately, extreme forms of adverse behaviour - like vandalism (an increasing problem, though) - do not occur ubiquitarily and on an everyday basis. However, also in everyday life an obliging conduct cannot always be taken for granted - a fact that regularly causes problems, particularly whenever many people gather at the same place – like in stations or vehicles of public transport.

In order to get a closer picture of existing codes of conduct and actual behaviour, we carried out three empirical studies which will be presented in the paper. Study 1 comprises a quantitative survey of local public transport passengers in Vienna who were interviewed in order to get their impression of what is allowed and what forbidden and whether they think there should be some changes. In detail, people were asked for their view on eating & drinking, appropriate clothing, baggage allowances, animals, telephone conversations, drunken passengers etc. In study 2, we induced and followed related discussions on several internet fora. Later the threads were analysed and interpreted by content analysis, thus taking a qualitative approach. Study 3 was conceived as a case study research with a focus on cultural influences and regional differences. For this purpose, a questionnaire has been sent per mail to several public transport companies around the globe in order learn more about local conditions, the rules and regulations they apply and the actual situation in their area of operation.

The paper will present and discuss the empirical findings of these studies and - on that basis - provide some conclusions and implications both for further research and corporate practice.


Association for European Transport