Graham Sustainability Institute

Multi-Mode Transportation: Modeling Commuter Choice and Policy Options

Project Team

Richard Gonzalez – Institute for Social Research
David Chock – University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Project Summary

The Livable Communities Integrated Assessment explored transportation-related policies and innovations that enable urban areas to create more livable communities. As part of the overall assessment, this project worked with the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area urban planning agency, Metro. The team collected survey data and developed a new modeling framework to improve understanding of commuters' attitudes that affect transportation choices and the ability to evaluate the effects of different transportation policies. Unlike traditional models that consider choices among only single modes of transportation, the new model focused on trips that use more than one mode of transportation, and the results supported the viability of an integrated transportation system as a way to address interconnected issues including poor air quality, congestion, and lack of parking. 
Key aspects of the project included:
  • Development of a model framework that considers multi-modal mobility decisions, thereby filling an important gap in existing modeling approaches and helping to identify potentially more successful strategies for encouraging car commuters to utilize public transit
  • Inclusion of measures of attitudes in the survey and model, which allows agencies to evaluate a broader array of policy approaches to promote sustainable transportation
  • Expansion of the model to enable scenario planning to improve the ability to examine intended and unintended consequences of different transportation policies
  • Additional collaboration with transportation authorities in California and the Oregon Department of Transportation, among others, to explore opportunities to scale the model or integrate multi-modal choice into other models of GHG emissions of different transportation scenarios
  • Continued opportunities to expand upon the work with a focus on understanding mobility in mega-cities in China
For more details read the final project report (PDF)
This project received a $150,000 Integrated Assessment Grant in 2012.