Determinants of transport mode choice: a comparison of Germany and the USA


Ralph Buehler

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - north america, mode - car, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian, mode - mass transit, economics - subsidy, ridership - mode choice, planning - safety/accidents


Germany, USA, Mode choice, Land-use, Socio-economics, Sustainability


Germany and the USA have among the highest motorization rates in the world. Yet Germans make a four times higher share of trips by foot, bike, and public transport and drive for a 25% lower share of trips as Americans. Using two comparable national travel surveys this paper empirically investigates determinants of transport mode choice in Germany and the USA. In both countries higher population density, a greater mix of land-uses, household proximity to public transport, and fewer cars per household are associated with a lower share of trips by automobile. However, considerable differences remain: all groups of society in America are more car-dependent than Germans. Even controlling for dissimilarities in socio-economic factors and land-use, Germans are more likely to walk, cycle, and use public transport. Moreover, Americans living in dense, mixed-use areas, and close to public transport are more likely to drive than Germans living in lower density areas, with more limited mix of land-uses, and farther from public transport. Differences in transport policy that make car travel slower, more expensive, less convenient, and alternatives to the automobile more attractive in Germany may help account for the remaining differences.


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


Journal of Transport Geography home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09666923