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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Positive Utility of the Commute: Modeling Ideal Commute Time and Relative Desired Commute Amount

  • Author(s): Redmond, Lothlorien S.
  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L.
  • et al.

Two measures of commute time preferences – Ideal Commute Time and Relative Desired Commute amount (a variable indicating the desire to commute “much less” to “much more” than currently) – are modeled, using tobit and ordered probit, respectively. Ideal Commute Time was found to be positively related to Actual Commute Time and to a liking and utility for commuting, and negatively related to commute frequency and to a family/community-oriented lifestyle. Relative Desired Commute, on the other hand, was negatively related to amounts of actual commute and work-related travel, but positively related to travel liking and a measure of commute benefit. Overall, commute time is not unequivocally a source of disutility to be minimized but rather offers some benefits (such as a transition between home and work). Most people have a non-zero optimum commute time, which can be violated in either direction – i.e. it is possible (although comparatively rare, occurring for only 7% of the sample) to commute too little. On the other hand, a large proportion of people (52% of the sample) are commuting longer than they would like, and hence would presumably be receptive to reducing (although usually not eliminating) that commute.

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