Exploring Passengers' Anxious Response on the London Underground and Suggestions for Its Alleviation

Exploring Passengers' Anxious Response on the London Underground and Suggestions for Its Alleviation


Jisun Kim, Brunel University, Olinkha Gustafson-Pearce, Brunel University, Habin Lee, Brunel University


This study considers the users’ emotional states when facing perceived risks and seeks to enhance the stakeholders’ knowledge of users’ perceived safety.


This pilot study explores passengers’ anxious responses when using the London Underground from the aspect of the customer service experience, and suggests possible opportunities to alleviate the responses. Anxiety, as one of the negative emotional states experienced when individuals anticipate future danger, which has scarcely been addressed in the existing public transport literature, will be discussed. A wide range of negative situations from the relevant literature relating to public transport has been reviewed, and selected to be examined if encounters with the situations induce anxious response among the respondents. A self-report anxiety questionnaire was developed and administered, and its results disclosed that the main anxiety triggering situations were seeing other passengers’ anti-social behaviour, overcrowding, too much noise, and late-night travel, long waits at platforms, disruptions, missing train and platform announcements, no toilet access, and not being able to find information from signs. The possible interpretation of the common threatening factors in the first-four ranked situations is that they might be related to passengers’ concerns about personal safety, which may stem from their safety needs. Also, the ‘levels’ of anxiety has been compared between genders to see the differences. The female respondents tended to feel more anxious about almost all the negative situations apart from disruptions and no access to toilet facilities. This will potentially enable the service providers to view latent problems in the London Underground service environment. Lastly, suggestions for possibilities to mitigate anxious responses through boosting passengers' perceived control and providing possible coping options are resources will also be discussed.


Association for European Transport