The same mode again? An exploration of mode choice variability in Great Britain using the National Travel Survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, ridership - disadvantage, ridership - old people, planning - surveys, place - europe


Intrapersonal variability, Mode choice, Multimodality, Modal variability, Mobility constraints


The main focus of travel behaviour research has been explaining differences in behaviour between individuals (interpersonal variability) with less emphasis given to the variability of behaviour within individuals (intrapersonal variability). The subject of this paper is the variability of transport modes used by individuals in their weekly travel. Our review shows that previous studies have not allowed the full use of different modes in weekly travel to be taken into account, have used categorical variables as simple indicators of modal variability and have only considered a limited set of explanatory indicators in seeking to explain modal variability. In our analysis we use National Travel Survey data for Great Britain. We analyse modal variability with continuous measures of modal variability (Herfindahl–Hirschman Index, the difference in mode share between the primary and secondary mode, the total number of modes used). Taking inspiration from Hägerstrand (1970), we conceive that modal variability is determined by different types of spatial mobility constraints and find that reduced modal variability is predicted for having mobility difficulties, being aged over 60, being non-white, working full-time, living in smaller settlement, lower household income, having regular access to a car, having no public transport pass/season ticket and not owning a bicycle. The findings can support a change in perspective in transport policy from encouraging people to replace the use of one mode with another to encouraging people to make a change to their relative use of different transport modes.


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


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