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How attractive is it to use the internet while commuting? A work-attitude-based segmentation of Northern California commuters

  • Author(s): Choi, S
  • Mokhtarian, PL
  • et al.

We explore how the hypothetical provision of Wi-Fi on transit affects the willingness of non-transit commuters (solo drivers, ridesharers, and cyclists) in Northern California (N = 1402) to switch from their current mode to public transit with internet access (PTWIA). Beyond the prima facie interpretation of our survey results, they shed light on the heterogeneously-perceived utility of hands-free travel more generally, and, as such, speak to an automated-vehicle future. We develop latent class binary choice models of the likelihood of switching to PTWIA, stratified by current commute mode. Each model identifies two latent classes, based largely on work-related attitudes: solo drivers divide into the work-oriented (22%) and pleasure-oriented (78%); ridesharers into the over-traveled monotaskers (77%) and multitasking commuters (23%); and cyclists into work-oriented (28%) and non-work-oriented (72%). Thus, non-work-oriented commuters are a sizable majority of non-transit users, and also have a much lower weighted probability of switching to PTWIA (0.17, on average) compared to the work-oriented commuters (0.48). In sum, work-friendly hands-free travel can be an appealing alternative to those who are oriented toward working (and especially on the commute), but (1) not for all of them, and (2) such people only constitute about a quarter of the non-transit commuters (in Northern California). These results provide empirical insight into the extent to which the productive use of travel time made possible by automated vehicles will be exploited by future commuters.

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