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Illusion of Motion: Variation of Subjective Value of Travel Time on Freeways and Ramp Meters

Listed author(s):
  • Lei Zhang
  • Feng xie
  • David Levinson


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

This paper explores drivers' subjective value of time under moving and stopped freeway travel conditions using a stated preference survey. Unlike previous studies that assume a constant value of time, this research relates perceived satisfaction of a freeway trip to its quality indicators. Sixty-nine subjects in the Twin Cities are asked in the survey to rank sixteen driving scenarios in four condition sets with different durations of ramp wait and freeway travel. Several utility functions are specified where the weight of ramp delay is a function of the length of the delay itself and subject specific variables, and the resulting choice models estimated using rank-ordered logit and binary logit techniques. Results suggest that drivers perceive ramp wait as more onerous than freeway travel. Drivers also weight each minute of ramp wait more heavily as the length of the delay gets longer. Although the subjects show some tolerance to the first several minutes of ramp delay (less than 5 minutes), they perceive long delays as much as twelve times more onerous than time in motion. The derived weighting function for ramp wait can improve the design of freeway traffic control strategies that trade-off freeway delay with ramp wait. The findings also enable a more utility-based approach for freeway operations than the current method which has the engineering efficiency objective of minimizing total system delay or maximizing throughput. Minimizing total perceived travel time is probably more appropriate than minimizing total absolute travel time which does not take into account driver acceptance. The weighting function can also be easily transformed into a value of time function for project evaluation purposes.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group in its series Working Papers with number 200903.

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Date of creation: 2007
Publication status: Published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2135 34-42
Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:svtt
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Dept. of Civil Engineering, 500 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

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  1. Lam, Terence C. & Small, Kenneth A., 0. "The value of time and reliability: measurement from a value pricing experiment," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 231-251, April.
  2. Lothlorien Redmond & Patricia Mokhtarian, 2001. "The positive utility of the commute: modeling ideal commute time and relative desired commute amount," Transportation, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 179-205, May.
  3. Bhat, Chandra R., 1995. "A heteroscedastic extreme value model of intercity travel mode choice," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 471-483, December.
  4. Jara-Diaz, Sergio R., 1990. "Consumer's surplus and the value of travel time savings," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 73-77, February.
  5. Levinson, David & Zhang, Lei, 2006. "Ramp meters on trial: Evidence from the Twin Cities metering holiday," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 810-828, December.
  6. Lei Zhang & David Levinson, 2005. "Balancing Efficiency and Equity of Ramp Meters," Working Papers 200508, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  7. Calfee, John & Winston, Clifford, 1998. "The value of automobile travel time: implications for congestion policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 83-102, July.
  8. David Levinson & Kathleen Harder & John Bloomfield & Kasia Winiarczyk, 2004. "Weighting Waiting: Evaluating the Perception of In-Vehicle Travel Time Under Moving and Stopped Conditions," Working Papers 200401, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
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