A Study on the Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction with the Bus System in The People's Republic of China


  • Dong Hwan Lee Indiana University
  • Hans B. Thorelli Indiana University


This study analyses the passenger experience with the bus system in Shanghai, the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the perspective of consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction (SID) theory, to which we take an ecological approach (Thorelli 1983). The data used in this study were originally collected in June, 1982. The sample comprised 191 passengers who used the Shanghai Bus Company (SBC), a state monopoly which operates more than 4,000 buses on about 80 regular routes (as of 1982). The findings generally support the notion that the level of SID of passengers is determined by prior expectations of the performance of the bus system, perceived performance based on actual experience, and also strongly influenced by environmental specifics such as the local traffic situation as well as broader socio-cultural aspects. The quality of the service provided by the SBC is considered to be below the level that public transportation is normally supposed to meet. Consequently, passengers perceive the performance of the bus system as quite low based on their actual experience. Nevertheless, their attitudes toward several aspects of the bus service suggest that they have relatively low level of dissatisfaction with the bus system. The low level of performance-specific expectations that serves as a frame of reference to compare actual experience has been found important in explaining the narrower band of negative disconfirmation than the traditional consumer SID theory might predict. In addition, the study found that contextual factors and socio-cultural aspects also exercise an important influence, as the ecological perspective suggests, narrowing the perceived discrepancy between the expectation and performance and resulting in a relatively low level of dissatisfaction with the bus system.