Publication Detail

Did Free Wi-Fi Make a Difference to Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor Service? An Evaluation of the Impact on Riders and Ridership

UCD-ITS-RR-13-03

Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Mokhtarian, Patricia L., Amanda J. Neufeld, Zhi Dong, Giovanni Circella (2013) Did Free Wi-Fi Make a Difference to Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor Service? An Evaluation of the Impact on Riders and Ridership . Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-13-03

On November 28, 2011, Amtrak launched the free Wi-Fi service named “AmtrakConnect”, on all trains traveling the California Capitol Corridor (CC) route. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the changes in ridership associated with the availability of free Wi-Fi. To do this, we developed a four-page survey and distributed it to all passengers on board most California Capitol Corridor trains running during the three weekdays of March 6-8, 2012. A total of 1627 surveys were returned by passengers, and after cleaning the data, the final working sample included 1576 completed surveys.  The sample was weighted to correct for the overrepresentation of frequent travelers, and analysis includes descriptive statistics, a discrete choice model to predict the propensity to use AmtrakConnect, and a multiple regression model with which to estimate the impact of the service on passengers’ trip frequency in 2012. The model that estimates the impact of Wi-Fi on 2012 frequency includes trip frequency in 2011, trip purpose, station-to-station distance, employment and two reasons for changing trip frequency (free Wi-Fi and job location change) as explanatory variables. An estimated 2.7% increase in round trips between 2011 and 2012 could be attributed to Wi-Fi.