Challenging the Supremacy of the Automobile Mode: An Exercise in Futility?
Ram M. Pendyala, Ph.D.
Friday, March 25, 2022
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
In light of rapidly escalating concerns about the significant contribution of transportation to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global climate change, there is renewed emphasis in the transportation planning and policymaking arena to reduce vehicle miles of travel, shift automobile trips to more sustainable modes of transportation, and leverage the opportunities presented by new mobility services to increase modal shares of public transit, bicycling, and walking. However, bringing about a significant shift in mode shares has proven extremely difficult in most contexts, and decades of transportation demand management strategies and multimodal transportation campaigns and investments have largely proven futile in reducing vehicle use and associated miles of travel. This presentation summarizes two studies that were undertaken with a view to understand and explain why this has been the case. Using survey data on attitudes and travel behavior collected from four automobile-oriented sunbelt cities of the United States, detailed analyses and econometric modeling efforts were undertaken to explore key relationships driving mode usage patterns. The first study explores the extent to which the reported level of satisfaction with the daily travel routine is related to the relative use of the automobile-driving mode, while the second study explores the impact of ride-hailing service use on bus ridership. The two studies yield findings that explain why the automobile mode of transportation has reigned supreme despite the many efforts to shift mobility choices towards more sustainable modes.
Ram M. Pendyala, Ph.D., teaches and conducts research in multimodal transportation systems planning and engineering, with a focus on forecasting activity-travel demand and modeling traveler behavior and values. He has published over 200 articles in journals, books, and proceedings, completed more than $7 million in sponsored research, and holds leadership positions in professional associations such as the Transportation Research Board and American Society of Civil Engineers.