Publication Detail

Telecommunications and Travel Demand and Supply: Aggregate Structural Equation Models for the US


Journal Article

Suggested Citation:
Choo, Sangho and Patricia L. Mokhtarian (2006) Telecommunications and Travel Demand and Supply: Aggregate Structural Equation Models for the US. Transportation Research Part A 41 (2007), 4 - 18

Disaggregate studies of the impacts of telecommunications applications (e.g. telecommuting) on travel have generally found a net substitution effect. However, such studies have all been short-term and small-scale, and there is reason to believe that when more indirect and longer-term effects are accounted for, complementarity is the likely outcome. At least two aggregate studies have focused on the relationships between telecommunications and travel from economic perspectives (consumer and industry). However, both use the monetary value of consumption or transactions rather than actual activity measures (e.g. miles, number of calls), and neither fully explains the direct and indirect causal relationships between the two. The purpose of this study is to develop a conceptual model in a comprehensive framework, considering causal relationships among travel, telecommunications, land use, economic activity, and socio-demographics, and to explore the aggregate relationships between telecommunications and travel, using structural equation modeling of national time series data spanning 1950–2000 in the US. In this paper we focus on number of telephone calls as the measure of telecommunications, and passenger vehicle–miles traveled as the measure of transportation. Future research will investigate additional measures of these two constructs. Our empirical results strongly support the hypothesis that telecommunications and travel are complementary. That is, as telecommunications demand increases, travel demand increases, and vice versa. These results offer a more realistic picture to policy makers and transportation planners than has been available till now, and suggest useful directions for them to develop transportation or telecommunications strategies designed to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption.