What do commuters think travel time reliability is worth? Calculating economic value of reducing the frequency and extent of unexpected delays

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - willingness to pay, economics - value of time, operations - reliability


reliability, willingness-to-pay, value of travel time


The measurement of transportation system reliability has become one of the central topics of travel demand studies. A growing literature concerns the measurement of value of travel time reliability which provides a monetary cost of avoiding unpredictable travel time. The goal of this study is to measure commuters’ sensitivities to travel time reliability and their willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid unreliable routes. The preferences are elicited through a pivoted stated preference survey technique. To circumvent the issue of presenting numerical distributions and statistical terms to day-to-day commuters, we use the frequency of delay days as a means of measuring traveler’s sensitivities to travel time reliability. The advantage of using simplified measures to elicit traveler preferences for travel time reliability is that these methods simply compare days with high delay to days with usual travel time. It was found that travelers are not only averse to the amount of unexpected delay but also to the frequency of days with unexpected delays. The paper presents WTP findings for three measures: travel time, frequency embedded travel time, and travel time reliability. The ‘reliability’ increase in WTP for travel time is found to be nearly proportional to the frequency of experiencing unexpected delays. For example, the WTP for mean travel time is calculated at 6.98/h;however,reliabilityadds3.27 (about 50 % of $6.98) to avoid unexpected delays ‘5 out of 10 days’. The results of the study would provide valuable inputs to cost-benefit analyses and traffic and revenue studies required for road tolling investment projects.


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