Fostering a socially accommodating environment could attract more passengers to public transit.
-The public transit social environment is comparable to the feeling inside a crowded elevator.
-Sixty percent of public transit passengers intentionally avoid social interaction.
-Passengers are 30 percent more likely to converse when sitting across from each other than side-by-side.
Forced to sit uncomfortably close to strangers, a majority of public transit passengers go out of their way to avoid social interaction, according to recent survey data.
Jared Thomas, a former doctoral student in psychology at the University of Victoria who works for Opus International Consultants, observed and surveyed 1,703 train and bus riders in New Zealand to identify their social needs and behaviors.
Fifty percent of respondents said they intentionally engage in isolating activities, such as listening to music or reading, to discourage conversation.
The study concluded that side-by-side seating arrangements and standoffish behaviors create a socially uncomfortable environment akin to a crowded elevator.