Exploring the Positive Utility of Travel and Mode Choice: Subjective Well-Being and Travel-Based Multitasking During the Commute

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

15th International Conference on Travel Behavior Research


Santa Barbara, CA

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The Positive Utility of Travel (PUT) concept encompasses both intrinsic motivations for travel (and for traveling in certain ways) and non-destination-oriented benefits of the act of traveling. There are two major sources of benefits: positive travel experiences (subjective well-being) and in-travel activity participation (travel-based multitasking). The PUT concept has rarely been examined in mode choice analysis due to lack of data for non-chosen alternatives. This chapter investigates associations between mode choice and these two PUT dimensions (well-being and multitasking) using a novel revealed preference study in which PUT attributes were measured for chosen as well as for alternative modes. Data from a survey of 546 commuters in Portland, Oregon, were analyzed using an integrated choice and latent variable mode choice model. Results found a strong and positive association between a measure of travel well-being (the Satisfaction with Travel Scale) and mode choice; results for travel-based multitasking were more ambiguous. Findings suggest that travelers may consider experiences and expectations regarding their well-being and happiness when choosing a commute mode, but also that in-travel multitasking may be more about “killing time” than being productive. This study is among the first to demonstrate evidence consistent with PUT measures directly impacting mode choice behavior.

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