Suburbanisation of employment means less sustainable travel? - The effects of policy location on commuters' travel patterns in the Stavanger region, Norway
The growth and expansion of commercial locations followed by urban sprawl and significant change in demographic and socio-demographic characteristics of urban resident have taken place in the Stavanger region, Norway - partly due to its role as 'the Petroleum Capital of Norway'. Most notable evidence are: (1) suburbanisation of employment due to the rapid development of the petroleum-based businesses, manufacturing companies and service enterprises in the region and its satellite region; (2) increased labour force participation, in particular by skilled workers and women; (3) growing proportion of immigration from inter-region of Norway as well as international, responding its dynamic labour market; (4) general increases in income; (5) changing population structure caused by significant percentage of young professional individuals; (6) and also great proportion of auto ownership and auto dependency. For example, the local authority has developed the industrial parks, known as the Forus area which is situated in the south-west of the Stavanger city centre. Currently, there are more than 1200 businesses located in this area and this provides opportunities for more than 24000 professionals, indicating that its employment density is extremely high. This, however, means that auto dependency of the Forus area-based commuters has reached by nearly 82 % of total mode choices used. The effects of industrialisation in suburbs on travel behavior are complex and not clear yet. One argues that suburbanisation of employment is inevitable in recent era in order to provide better accessibility of jobs and to reduce attractiveness of city centre in the same time. Therefore, how local authority connects their residents and workplaces and to break dependency on auto is the issue since commuters tend to use auto. This case is more obvious in particular if the quality of installed transport infrastructure is relatively poor. Whiles, others recommend jobs-housing balance supported by mixed-zone policy to control negative impacts of workplace sprawl. Allowing urbanisation of employment alone without considering travel distance balance leads to a less sustainable travel patterns because the higher the commuting distance the much more likely individuals tend to be depending on auto. This study is an attempt to determine the effects of suburbanisation of employment on commuting travel patterns. The questions raised are: Does suburbanisation of employment lead to an increase of commuting travel time (and distance), auto use, energy consumption, and the spatial extension of their action space? If so, who still have more sustainable commuting travel patterns? Who don't? Also, how sustainable is their commuting travel patterns compared to other groups of commuter in the region? Which factors tend influence auto dependency? The focus of this study is on commuters. Results of travel behaviour survey in the Stavanger area, conducted in summer 2008, are examined in this study to evaluate the effects of suburbanisation of employment on travel. The study depicts the commuters in the Forus area as the sample size and compares its behavioural patterns with the city centre-based commuters of the Stavanger region and the other commuters who reside in between the city centre and the Forus area. A set of multivariate analyses and other statistical tools are utilised to examine at the individual level, with auto ownership, public transport use, travel distance and travel time performed as its dependent variables. Using the results it is shown who tends to commute longer and who don't. Also factors that influence auto dependency are captured and the characteristics of the sustainable commuters are identified. Evaluating this policy location is necessary as a study reported that it may be pragmatically and politically more acceptable to change policies in primarily employment areas, because the users of those areas may have fewer complaints about more intense development than residential users typically do. In addition, the resultant model system is applied in a scenario analysis to forecast possible changes in future auto travel that will follow hypothetical spatial changes in the Stavanger region.
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