Using structural equations modeling to unravel the influence of land use patterns on travel behavior of workers in Montreal

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - north america, land use - impacts, land use - urban density


Structural equations modeling, Transport and land use, Travel behavior, Montreal


This paper addresses the relations between travel behavior and land use patterns using a Structural Equations Modeling (SEM) framework. The proposed model structure draws on two earlier models developed for Lisbon and Seattle which show significant effects of land use patterns on travel behavior. The travel behavior variables included here are multifaceted including commuting distance, car ownership, the amount of mobility by mode (car, transit and non-motorized modes), both in terms of total kilometers travelled and number of trips. The model also includes a travel scheduling variable, which is the total time spent between the first and last trips to reflect daily constraints in time allocation and travel.

The modeled land use variables measure the levels of urban concentration and density, diversity, both in terms of types of uses and the mix between jobs and inhabitants/residents, the transport supply levels, transit and road infrastructure, and accessibility indicators. The land use patterns are described both at the residence and employment zones of each individual included in the model by using a factor analysis technique as a data reduction and multicollinearity elimination technique. In order to explicitly account for self selection bias the land use variables are explicitly modeled as functions of socioeconomic attributes of individuals and their households.

The results obtained show that people with different socioeconomic characteristics tend to work and live in places of substantially different urban environments. But besides these socioeconomic self-selection effects, land use variables significantly affect travel behavior. More precisely the effects of land use are in great part passed thru variables describing long term decisions like commuting distance, and car ownership. These results point to similar conclusions from the models developed for Lisbon and Seattle and thus give weight to the use of land use policies as tools for changing travel behavior.


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


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