April 16, 2010

What Happens to Commuting When it is Disrupted by a Major Freeway Reconstruction Project? Insights from Fix I-5


Dr. Pat Mokhtarian, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chair of the Graduate Group, and Associate Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis


One mile of Interstate 5 (I-5) in downtown Sacramento, California was intermittently closed for reconstruction (“the Fix? over nine weeks in 2008. We analyze the impacts of the Fix on commuters?travel behavior, as measured through two contemporaneous internet-based surveys. The passive impacts of the Fix do not appear to be excessive: majorities in all relevant subsamples did not find conditions worse than usual, and sizable minorities found them to be better. Among the active changes to commute trips, the easiest options ?avoiding rush hour and changing route ?were the most common (adopted by 48% and 44%, respectively). Among the changes that reduce vehicle-miles travelled, increasing transit use and increasing telecommuting were the most common (each adopted by 5-6% of the relevant subsample). Conditions, and commuters?behavior, apparently began to revert to normal as the Fix progressed. Binary logit models of the choices to increase telecommuting and increase transit use suggest that persuading current adopters to increase their frequency of use is easier than convincing nonadopters to start telecommuting or switch to transit. Women and those in larger households were more likely to increase telecommuting and transit use. Employer support of commute alternatives significantly influenced the adoption of both strategies.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Patricia Mokhtarian is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chair and Graduate Adviser of the Transportation Technology and Policy Graduate Group, and Associate Director for Education at the Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis. She received her B.A. in Mathematics from Florida State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering/Management Science from Northwestern University. Professor Mokhtarian joined UC Davis in 1990, after a post-doc at UC Irvine, six years with the Southern California Association of Governments in Los Angeles, and two years in consulting. Her research interests include travel behavior modeling; travel demand forecasting; impacts of telecommunications on transportation, land use, and the environment; and transportation-land-use interactions. She is an emeritus member of the Transportation Research Board committees on Telecommunications and Travel Behavior (founding chair) and Traveler Behavior and Values, and has served on several National Academies study committees, most recently including the Committee on Development Patterns, Vehicle-miles Traveled, and Energy. She is an Editor of Transportation, and a member of the Editorial Boards of the Transportation Research Part A, Transport Policy, and Transportation Letters journals.  She has published more than 100 refereed papers in international journals, and numerous other reports and articles.