Modal disparity in commuting efficiency: A comparison across educational worker subgroups in Shanghai

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice, planning - surveys


Excess commuting, Jobs–housing balance, Modal disparity, Education, Shanghai


The majority of modal disparity studies focus on accessibility to jobs and to non-work activities with little attention paid to actual commuting behavior. How modal differences in commuting behavior change when set against the minimum and maximum commutes possible within a fixed urban structure is much less known. In commuting efficiency studies, the mode of commuting flows has not been intersected with socio-economic characteristics. Using the 2015 1 % National Population Sample Survey (NPSS) in Shanghai, we apply the excess commuting framework to fill this research gap by measuring the modal disparity between public transport and cars, in commuting efficiency by education level of workers. Results show that public transport users are less efficient commuters than car users, indicating great capacity exists for optimizing public transportation. However, the modal disparity decreases with increasing educational attainment, because car commuting efficiency is decreasing at a faster rate than for public transport. Based on these findings, urban transportation policy should focus on improving jobs-housing balance of public transport, and building a friendly green travel environment to rectify car-oriented bias in urban spatial structure and narrow the difference between public transport users and car users, especially for the poorly-educated.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.