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The Optimal Choice of Commuting Speed: Consequences for Commuting Time, Distance and Costs

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  • Jos Van Ommeren
  • Joyce Dargay

Abstract

In this paper, we derive a structural model for commuting speed. We presume that commuting speed is chosen to minimise commuting costs, which encompass both monetary and time costs. At faster speed levels, the monetary costs increase, but the time costs fall. Using data from Great Britain, we demonstrate that the income elasticity of commuting speed is approximately 0.13. The ratio of variable monetary costs to travel time costs is estimated to be about 0.14. An implication of this is that as incomes rise commuters choose faster modes, despite their higher monetary costs. This has been an important factor in the growth of commuting by car in the past decades (for example, during the 90s the percentage of work trips made by car in Britain increased from 65 per cent to 70 per cent) and is anticipated to be relevant in the next decades for developing countries such as China and India. With increasing congestion, the time-advantage of car travel will decline, but unless faster public transport modes are available, there will be little incentive to switch to public transport (unless the monetary costs decline substantially in relation to car travel). © 2006 LSE and the University of Bath

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  • Jos Van Ommeren & Joyce Dargay, 2006. "The Optimal Choice of Commuting Speed: Consequences for Commuting Time, Distance and Costs," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 40(2), pages 279-296, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpe:jtecpo:v:40:y:2006:i:2:p:279-296
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    Cited by:

    1. Larsen, Morten Marott & Pilegaard, Ninette & Ommeren, Jos Van, 2008. "Congestion and residential moving behaviour," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 378-387, July.
    2. Muhammad Sabir & Jos Ommeren & Mark Koetse & Piet Rietveld, 2011. "Adverse Weather and Commuting Speed," Networks and Spatial Economics, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 701-712, December.
    3. van Ommeren, Jos N. & van der Straaten, J. Willemijn, 2008. "The effect of search imperfections on commuting behaviour: Evidence from employed and self-employed workers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 127-147, March.
    4. McQuaid, Ronald W., 2009. "A model of the travel to work limits of parents," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 19-28.
    5. Grazi, Fabio & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2008. "Spatial organization, transport, and climate change: Comparing instruments of spatial planning and policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 630-639, November.
    6. Muhammad Sabir & Jos van Ommeren & Mark Koetse & Piet Rietveld, 2008. "Welfare Effects of Adverse Weather through Speed Changes in Car Commuting Trips," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-087/3, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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