Mode choice, theory and reality


Mode choice is the decision people make on whether to travel by car or rail (bus, bicycle etc.). Traffic engineers try to model it in different ways, when they attempt to forecast future travel patterns.  

Wikipedia has a page on mode choice. The page describes different ways of modellingit. These include diversion curve techniques and econometric formulations.  One example  which the Wikipedia page gives of the formulas used in econometric formulation is:

m choice 02


Tm choice 01wo recent newspaper articles describe what is for many people the reality of rail travel. Italy’s “La Repubblica” has a June 2013 article (here) . The text says: “The first coach was closed. The second was overcrowded and the air conditioning wasn’t working, although the fan was on”

The UK’S “Daily Mail”, in an article from July 2013, wrote:

 If you think your train is bursting at the seams, spare a thought for commuters on the 07.44 from Henley-on-Thames to London – it is officially the most overcrowded service in England and Wales.In a damning league table, it is revealed that the First Great Western service from Oxfordshire squeezes in nearly double the number of passengers it is designed to carry.The Government figures also revealed that more than 100,000 London-bound rail commuters – a fifth of the total – now have to stand at the busiest times of the morning rush-hour.

 It would be interesting to know how “real world” factors – such as discomfort (having to stand), broken equipment, untidy carriages and late arrival times – are represented in current theoretical approaches.


About roadnotes

Robert Bartlett is an international consultant with over 30 years of professional experience as a highway and traffic engineer with leading companies and organisations in several countries, including Germany, China (Hong Kong), Qatar and the UK. Specialised in urban studies, transport and the use of GIS, research has included new ideas on subjects such as the study of social justice using GIS, the dimensions of vehicles, and comparative geometrics (highways and transport).
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