Public transportation systems in several developing cities face congestion, air pollution, and safety problems, yet many passengers use them regularly. This study examines the structure of passenger satisfaction and the role of mental adaptation under such conditions. Metro Manila MRT-3 was analyzed as a case study.

The actual and perceived conditions at the MRT-3 were assessed using surveys. Results of the waiting time and PM2.5 monitoring surveys revealed that passengers queue for 30 minutes, on average, while being exposed to unsafe levels of PM2.5. The questionnaire survey results show some discrepancies between actual and perceived values, suggesting a perception gap.

Passenger satisfaction in MRT-3 was then modeled using ordered logit, with actual and perceived conditions (waiting time, in-vehicle time, fare levels, risk perception, and air quality perception) as significant explanatory variables. Mental adaptation was found to moderate passenger satisfaction, which may explain why some passengers are satisfied despite MRT-3’s shortcomings.