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Relative Accessibility and the Choice of Modes


  • Andrew Owen
  • Paul Anderson
  • David Levinson

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)


The factors influencing commute mode choice are a subject of ongoing research and policy. Existing literature explores a wide range of factors which may influence mode choice; many of these focus on demographic factors as well as user preferences and perception, thereby highlighting the unique characteristics of each mode. This analysis hypothesizes that mode share, the aggregate expression of individuals' mode choices, is determined in large part by more fundamental properties of transportation systems. Accessibility, which measures the ease of reaching destinations, is used as a tool for comparing modes which focuses on their properties as abstract transportation systems. It explores the potential to predict the relative commute shares of non-auto and auto modes from the relative accessibility provided by each. Using public data sources and methods selected for their simplicity and ease of interpretation, a model is estimated which accounts for 41% of the variation in commute mode share at the block group level in the Minneapolis--Saint Paul, MN metropolitan area.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Owen & Paul Anderson & David Levinson, 2012. "Relative Accessibility and the Choice of Modes," Working Papers 000109, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:relativeaccessibilityandthechoiceofmodes

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    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pnina Plaut, 2004. "Non-commuters: the people who walk to work or work at home," Transportation, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 229-255, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Levinson & David Giacomin & Antony Badsey-Ellis, 2014. "Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground," Working Papers 000124, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.

    More about this item


    accessibility; mode choice; travel behavior;

    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
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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