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Commute Time Quality: Exploring the role of mode and other factors using the UC Davis Campus Travel Survey

Lecture | January 26 | 4 p.m. | 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building

Susan Handy, UC Davis

Institute of Transportation Studies

Abstract: Workers worldwide spend a significant share of their time each week getting to and from work. With a finite number of hours in a day, workers are clearly affected by their amount of commute time, but their well-being is also likely to depend on their quality of commute time. Building on recent work on subjective well-being in the transportation field, we use data from an annual survey of students and employees at the University of California, Davis to examine factors associated with three commute characteristics that have direct ties to well-being: perceptions that commute time is wasted time, perceptions that the commute is stressful, and liking of travel modes. Results show that bicycle commuters report the most positive scores on all three measures. Among undergraduate students, those taking the bus to campus are far more stressed than those bicycling to campus. Among those living outside of Davis, train riders have the highest quality commutes. These results suggest a well-being rationale for the university to invest in programs that reduce driving to campus, adding to the existing financial and environmental rationales for such programs. This study further underscores the increasingly recognized importance of collecting data on qualitative aspects of travel.

Bio: Dr. Susan Handy is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at the University of California, Davis. She is well known for her research on the relationships between transportation and land use, particularly the impact of neighborhood design on travel behavior. Her current work focuses on bicycling as a mode of transportation and on strategies for reducing automobile dependence.