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When is Commuting Desirable to the Individual?


  • David T. Ory
  • Patricia L. Mokhtarian
  • Lothlorien S. Redmond
  • Ilan Salomon
  • Gustavo O. Collantes
  • Sangho Choo


Commuting is popularly viewed as a stressful, costly, time-wasting experience from the individual perspective, with the attendant congestion imposing major social costs as well. However, several authors have noted that commuting can also offer benefits to the individual, serving as a valued transition between the home and work realms of personal life. Using survey data collected from about 1,300 commuting workers in three San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods, empirical models are developed for four key variables measured for commute travel, namely: Objective Mobility, Subjective Mobility, Travel Liking, and Relative Desired Mobility. Explanatory variables include measures of general travel-related attitudes, personality traits, lifestyle priorities, and sociodemographic characteristics. Both descriptive statistics and analytical models indicate that commuting is not the unmitigated burden that it is widely perceived to be. About half of the sample were relatively satisfied with the amount they commute, with a small segment actually wanting to increase that amount. Both the psychological impact of commuting, and the amounts people want to commute relative to what they are doing now, are strongly influenced by their liking for commuting. An implication for policy is that some people may be more resistant than expected toward approaches intended to induce reductions in commuting (including, for example, telecommuting). New creativity may be needed to devise policies that recognize the inherent positive utility of travel, while trying to find socially beneficial ways to fulfill desires to maintain or increase travel. Copyright 2004 Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky..

Suggested Citation

  • David T. Ory & Patricia L. Mokhtarian & Lothlorien S. Redmond & Ilan Salomon & Gustavo O. Collantes & Sangho Choo, 2004. "When is Commuting Desirable to the Individual?," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(3), pages 334-359.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:growch:v:35:y:2004:i:3:p:334-359

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stopher, Peter R., 2004. "Reducing road congestion: a reality check," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 117-131, April.
    2. Redmond, Lothlorien S. & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2001. "Modeling Objective Mobility: The Impact of Travel-Related Attitudes, Personality and Lifestyle on Distance Traveled," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt05d352fr, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Redmond, Lothlorien, 2000. "Identifying and Analyzing Travel-Related Attitudinal, Personality, and Lifestyle Clusters in the San Francisco Bay Area," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt0317h7v4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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