Investigating commuting flexibility with GPS data and 3D geovisualization: a case study of Beijing, China

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, ridership - commuting, technology - geographic information systems


Commuting flexibility, Commuting patterns, GPS, 3D geovisualization, Beijing


Using the notion of commuting flexibility, this paper investigates the intra-personal day-to-day variability and flexibility of commuting behavior using a 7-day GPS dataset collected in Beijing, China. Four dimensions of commuting variability are evaluated: space, time, travel mode, and travel route. The results indicate that the commute trip is flexible and complex in a variety of ways. Through 3D geovisualizations we were able to identify seven distinctive commuting patterns based on different combinations of the four dimensions of commuting flexibility. The results call into question the common presupposition that the commute trip is stable and fixed in many respects. Among the four dimensions of commuting flexibility, we found that variation or flexibility in time is more common than variation in the other three dimensions of commuting flexibility. This means that temporal adjustment for coping with commute problems is likely to be the most feasible option for suburban residents in Beijing.


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


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