Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Public Use of an Online Advanced Traveler Guidance Information System: Trust in the E-Service and the Agency

Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Public Use of an Online Advanced Traveler Guidance Information System: Trust in the E-Service and the Agency

Article excerpt


In recent years, countless public transit systems have installed interactive, web sites to assist riders in obtaining transit route information and assistance with trip planning. For many of these citizens, the web interface has become the only method of communication with the public service agency and the primary method of obtaining information about transit services for bus, train and other local and regional methods of travel. This study seeks to understand the end user citizen trust experience as users with e-government transit web sites, including how citizen perceptions of the transit service and transit agencies are affected through web site use. In addition to the service satisfaction offered by online trip planners, several studies suggest that use of e-government services such as transit planning systems may be dependent on users' trust in the government services provided and government agency outcomes (Grimsly & Meehan, 2007). The current phase of research investigates trust in the transit planning website as a service, the transit authority, and the intent to use services in the future.

We begin with a review of the state of e-government services and systems, along with the specific context of the study, an online advanced traveler information system (ATIS) installed in Minneapolis, MN. The methods are presented, followed by results and discussion of the statistical analysis and qualitative focus group discussions.

Trust in Online Public Services and E-Government

In recent years, public services have been redefined due to the implementation of e-government services (Gauld, Goldfinch, & Horsburgh, 2010). For example, it is now commonplace for a transit service to provide a web site to citizens with route information along with the ability to plan trips. In this way, a wide range of transit planning systems offer expedited and flexible services to citizens while providing opportunities to improve service planning and route efficiencies.

However, trust in e-government systems and services varies greatly, partly due to the "distant and impersonal nature" of interaction with such systems (Belanger & Carter, 2008). Specific instances of success with online services, such as with transit planners, have emerged in a context of broad claims that e-government benefits society by reducing overhead and contributing to the digital economy (Bakry, 2004). As the nature of e-government mediated interaction services has changed, so have citizen expectations. For example, a particularly appealing characteristic of e-government is that it allows citizens to seek public services at their own convenience rather than just when the public service office is open (West, 2004). While the promise of ubiquitous e-Government services is desirable, there are important government-to-citizen interactions to consider in the design of such systems. The simple objective of online delivery of information to citizens should not be the sole aim.

Improving the performance of e-government in response to rising citizen expectations underlines the need for confidence in government-sponsored digital initiatives. Recent studies have focused on technical aspects of such interactions that help to motivate confidence (Hof, 2003; Nelson, 1997; Steimke & Hagen, 2003). For example, some public sector websites attempt to convince the public that they are secure by explaining the implementation of methods for process management and security (e.g., Beer, Kunis, & Runger, 2006; Weerakody, Baire, & Chaudhrie, 2006; Zheng, Okuyama, & Finley, 2005). However, a rationale for the technical processes of e-government does not necessarily result in adoption of e-government services by the public. Initiatives delivering citizen-centric services through existing digital government initiatives suggest that citizen perceptions of public institutions and their digital initiatives remain critical factors needed for effectiveness. …

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