Factors Influencing Mode Choice for Intercity Travel From Northern New England to Major Northeastern Cities
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Factors Influencing Mode Choice for Intercity Travel From Northern New England to Major Northeastern Cities

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    Long-distance and intercity travel generally make up a small portion of the total number of trips taken by an individual, while representing a large portion of aggregate distance traveled on the transportation system. While some research exists on intercity travel behavior between large metropolitan centers, this report addresses a need for more research on travel behavior between non-metropolitan areas and large metropolitan centers. This research specifically considers travel from home locations in northern New England, going to Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. These trips are important for quality of life, multi-modal planning, and rural economies. This research identifies and quantifies factors that influence people’s mode choice (automobile, intercity bus, passenger rail, or commercial air travel) for these trips. The research uses survey questionnaire data, latent factor analysis, and discrete choice modeling methods. Factors include sociodemographic, built environment, latent attitudes, and trip characteristics. The survey, designed by the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center and the New England Transportation Institute, was conducted by Resource Systems Group, Inc. in 2014, with an initial sample size of 2560. Factor analysis was used to prepare 6 latent attitudinal factors, based on 70 attitudinal responses from the survey statements. The survey data were augmented with built environment variables using geographic information systems (GIS) analysis. A set of multinomial logit models, and a set of nested logit models, were estimated for business and non-business trip mode choice. Results indicate that for this type of travel, factors influencing mode choice for both business and non-business trips include trip distance; land use; personal use of technology; and latent attitudes about auto dependence, preference for automobile, and comfort with personal space and safety on public transportation. Gender is a less significant factor. Age is only significant for non-business trips. The results reinforce the importance and viability of modeling long-distance travel from less populated regions to large metropolitan areas, and the significant roles of trip distance, built environment, personal attitudes, and sociodemographic factors in how people choose to make these trips for different purposes. Future research should continue to improve these types of long-distance mode choice models by incorporating mode specific travel time and cost, developing more specific attitudinal statements to expand latent factor analysis, and further exploring built environment variables. Improving these models will promote better planning, engineering, operations, and infrastructure investment decisions in many regions and communities across the United States which have not yet been well studied, possibly impacting levels of service.
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