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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Typology of Relationships Between Telecommunications And Transportation

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

This paper defines the relationship between telecommunications and transportation, by expanding on linkages already identified in the literature, by identifying additional relationships, and by putting these relationships into a robust conceptual framework. There are conceptual, physical, analytical, and regulatory parallels between telecommunications and transportation. Telecommunications affects the demand for, and supply of, transportation -- and vice versa. In the broadest sense, all communication requires transportation in order to occur: transportation either of people, or objects or of electronic impulses. In other words, communication takes place via one or more of those three modes. It is suggested that "communication breeds communication." That is, the easier it is to communicate (whether through travel or telecommunications), or the more that one or another form of communication takes place, the more that communication as a whole is stimulated. The relative shares of each of the three modes of communication may vary as one mode partially substitutes for another, but the absolute amounts of communication via each mode are likely to increase. Two empirical studies are summarized, one illustrating that teleconferencing increased travel, the other illustrating that telecommuting decreased travel. Other implications for transportation planning are highlighted.

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