Estimating Commuter Mode Choice: A Discrete Choice Analysis of the Impact of Road Pricing and Parking Charges

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, planning - methods, ridership - mode choice, ridership - demand, policy - parking, economics - pricing, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - carpool


Vancouver (Canada), Value pricing (Road pricing), Urban transportation policy, Urban areas, Travel time, Travel models (Travel demand), Travel demand, Travel costs, Stated preferences, SOVs, Single occupant vehicles, Road pricing, Parking payment systems, Parking fees, Mode choice, Modal choice, Journey time, Express buses, Discrete choice methods, Commuters, Choice of transportation, Carpools


Road pricing and parking charges can reduce demand for single occupant vehicle (SOV) use, while providing funds to improve alternatives that will encourage mode switching. The impact of these policies on urban mode choice is uncertain, however. To estimate commuter mode choice behavior in response to such policies, 548 commuters from a Greater Vancouver suburb who presently drive alone to work completed an individually customized discrete choice experiment (DCE) in which they chose between driving alone, carpooling or taking a hypothetical express bus service when choices varied in terms of time and cost attributes. Attribute coefficients identified with the DCE were used in a predictive model to estimate commuter response to various policy-oriented combinations of charges and incentives. Results suggest that increases in drive-alone costs will bring about greater reductions in SOV demand than increases in SOV travel time or improvements in the times and costs of alternatives beyond a base level of service. The method described here can be a quick and inexpensive way for policymakers to estimate SOV commuter responses to pricing policies.