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Do millennials value travel time differently because of productive multitasking? A revealed-preference study of Northern California commuters


Millennials, the demographic cohort born in the last two decades of the twentieth century, are reported to adopt information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their everyday lives, including travel, to a greater extent than older generations. As ICT-driven travel-based multitasking influences travelers’ experience and satisfaction in various ways, millennials are expected to be affected at a greater scale. Still, to our knowledge, no previous studies have specifically focused on the impact of travel multitasking on travel behavior and the value of travel time (VOTT) of young adults. To address this gap, we use an original dataset collected among Northern California commuters (N = 2216) to analyze the magnitude and significance of individual and household-level factors affecting commute mode choice. We estimate a revealed-preference mode choice model and investigate the differences between millennials and older adults in the sample. Additionally, we conduct a sensitivity analysis to explore how incorporation of explanatory factors such as attitudes and propensity to multitask while traveling in mode choice models affects coefficient estimates, VOTT, and willingness to pay to use a laptop on the commute. Compared to non-millennials, the mode choice of millennials is found to be less affected by socio-economic characteristics and more strongly influenced by the activities performed while traveling. Young adults are found to have lower VOTT than older adults for both in-vehicle (15.0% less) and out-of-vehicle travel time (15.7% less), and higher willingness to pay (in time or money) to use a laptop, even after controlling for demographic traits, personal attitudes, and the propensity to multitask. This study contributes to better understanding the commuting behavior of millennials, and the factors affecting it, a topic of interest to transportation researchers, planners, and practitioners.

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