Running for the 7:45: The effects of public transit improvements on commuter stress

Richard E. Wener, Gary W. Evans, Donald Phillips, Natasha Nadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research project took advantage of the implementation of a major mass transit improvement by New Jersey Transit which provided a "one-seat ride" into New York City for many commuters who previously had to transfer in Hoboken in order to take Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) trains into New York City. The creation of this new service provided a natural experiment in which some riders switched to the new route, while others continued to use their previous route. We studied psychological and psychophysiological responses to these commuting options, using a quasi-experimental, pre-post change, field research design. We found that riders on this new line had lower levels of stress, as multiply measured, than they had earlier, before the advent of this new train, or than did other riders currently using the Hoboken-PATH option. The stress effects seemed to be mediated by the time of the trip - that is, the reduced trip time of the new, direct service seemed to be a primary factor in the reduced stress to riders. Predictability of the trip was also inversely correlated with stress, but did not distinguish between the commuter groups. These results were largely replicated with a student group who rode the same lines acting as simulated commuters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-220
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Behavior
  • Commuting
  • Stress
  • Trains
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Development
  • Transportation


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