Publication Detail

The Impacts of Telecommunications Technologies on Nonwork Travel Behavior


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Handy, Susan L. and Tom Yantis (1997) The Impacts of Telecommunications Technologies on Nonwork Travel Behavior. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-97-27

Potential new telecommunications technologies and services could have dramatic impacts on travel behavior. But the probable nature and magnitude of these impacts is uncertain. The usual assumption (or hope) is that such technologies will substitute for travel, allowing people to participate in activities at home that would have otherwise involved a trip. But telecommunications technologies may lead to other types of impacts as well, by increasing access to information and ease of communication: modification of travel, generation of additional travel, or generation of additional communication with no change in travel. This study focuses on the implications of telecommunications for nonwork travel and explores the potential substitution of in-home versions of an activity for out-of-home versions of that activity. Three specific activities were selected, and the sets of potentially substitutable versions of those activities that are currently available were examined: movies (theater vs. VCR vs. television), shopping (store vs. catalog vs. television), and banking (bank vs. ATM vs. phone vs. on-line). A household survey was implemented to characterize the use of the different versions of the three case study activities and explore the trade-offs between them. The results suggest a complicated relationship between in-home and out-of-home versions of activities. The degree to which inhome versions substitute for out-of-home versions of an activity depends on the nature of the activity and the characteristics of the individuals. In addition, the travel implications are not always clear. So far the evidence does not point to a reduction in travel.