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Determinants of Student Mode Choices

University students are generally more inclined to use public transport and non-motorized travel modes compared to the general population (Bonham and Koth, 2010; Ripplinger et al., 2009). According to Santos et al. (2013), cities with a larger population of students are characterized by a higher usage of public transit and other alternative modes such as walking, biking, and motorcycles compared to private auto. The choice of travel mode by students has an impact on the level of congestion and the parking requirements in the university neighborhood; these considerations are of importance in the context of large, urban universities. Several studies have assessed the determinants of student mode choices, including a number which have developed models of such choices.

Most studies have found that travel time, travel cost, and convenience are the key determinants of students’ mode choice. These were ranked as the first three factors affecting mode choice by the students of Ateneo De Manila University and Miriam College in Philippines (De Guzman and Diaz, 2005). Akar et al. (2012), who also studied the travel behavior of students at Ohio State University, concluded that the determinants of students’ mode choice can be subsumed under four factors labeled 6 as “Safety and Weather”, “Cost and Environment”, “Travel Time and Departure Flexibility”, and “Travel Time and Making Stops”.

Travel time and travel cost were also considered as key attributes affecting students mode choice by Maneesh et al. (2007), who developed a mode choice model for students at the Texas A&M University and calculated the students’ value of time to be $2.18/hour. While most of the studies have found a negative relationship between travel time of a specific mode and the attractiveness of that mode, Whalen et al. (2013) who developed a multinomial logit model to explain the mode choice of students at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, found that the travel time coefficients for private auto and bicycle were positive, indicating that students tend to enjoy longer trips by these modes.

After analyzing the spatial and temporal distribution of trips performed by students of University of Idaho via a descriptive study, Delmelle and Delmelle (2012) reckoned that the availability of parking permits for university students is the key predictor of commuting by car even for short trips, and especially in winter. This was corroborated by the findings of Whalen et al. (2013), and Zhou (2012), who found that having a parking permit favors driving solo. Similarly, Maneesh et al. (2007) stated that the parking permit fee applied in the Texas A&M University was a crucial factor in lessening the use of personal vehicles.

The effect of car ownership on students’ mode choice was studied by Limanond et al. (2011), who conducted a descriptive study of the travel behavior of students living on campus at the Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand using trip diaries filled out by students. The results indicated that students who owned a car were most likely to use it while others would resort to ride sharing or using the bus, which is the only public transport mode available there. However, car ownership did not affect the number of trips performed by students or the total distance traveled.

According to Maneesh et al. (2007), individual characteristics such as income, expenses, household type, number of hours in school, gender, and ethnicity affect the mode choice of students at the Texas A&M University. While Limanond et al. (2011) concluded that this behavior does not differ across genders at the Suranaree University of Technology, Akar et al. (2012) and Zhou (2012) found that females were more likely to use car than to walk, take the bus, or use bicycle.

In addition, Akar (2012) and Zhou (2012) found that undergraduate students were more likely to take the bus, walk, or use the bicycle compared to car. Zhou (2012) also found that older students are less likely to use alternative modes (public transit, biking, or walking), and graduates are more likely to telecommute.

Several factors related to the setting were also found to affect students’ mode choice. The findings of Akar et al. (2012) indicated that the presence of a bus stop within 0.5 miles from a student’s residence location appeared to have a significant positive effect on choosing to use bus. Similarly, the presence of a bicycle path within 0.5 miles appeared to have a positive effect on bicycle usage. Zhou (2012) noted that having classmates living nearby favors the use of alternative modes, and that commute distance has a positive effect on carpooling and telecommuting. Delmelle and Delmelle (2012) also found that safety and road topography are main elements affecting the use of non-motorized modes, especially for females. The effects of street and sidewalk density on HSR usage by students at the McMaster University was investigated by Whalen et al. (2013), who found positive coefficients for street density and negative coefficients for sidewalk density.

Zhou (2012) and Lavery et al. (2013) analyzed the effect of modality on the transportation behavior of students. Lavery et al. (2013), who also studied the travel behavior of students at the McMaster University, indicated that active travelers, and unlike those who use motorized modes, are generally not captives of a single travel mode. The results also indicated that modality is also affected by the setting, as higher population density tends to reduce the perceived modality of HSR users (since HSR serves dense areas, which eliminates need for other modes). In addition, longer distances from the university also tend to reduce the perceived modality of car and local transit users. Similarly, Zhou (2012) concluded that being multimodal (using more than one primary commute mode) and having a discounted transit pass favor the use of alternative modes.

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