Determinants of urban mobility in India: Lessons for promoting sustainable and inclusive urban transportation in developing countries

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, ridership - mode choice, ridership - demand, policy - sustainable, policy - equity, land use - urban density, planning - surveys, planning - travel demand management


Travel behaviour, Travel demand, Modal choice, Urban form, India, Multivariate analysis, Sustainable development goals, Developing country


Studies from developed economies have analyzed the key factors for understanding urban mobility, which are important to design appropriate interventions to reduce the volume of transport needs and to promote more sustainable modes of transportation. However, there are limited studies in urban areas of developing economies, which can hinder our capacity to formulate sustainable transport policies that are fit for the reality of those countries. In order to fill this gap, this study quantifies the influence of city features and socio-economic and socio-cultural variables on mobility patterns to identify evidence-based policy interventions for promoting more inclusive and sustainable transportation paths. The research estimates the amount of public and private transport (proxied by out-of-pocket travel expenditure) and modal choices, employing multivariate analyses, using a nationally representative household survey from the 98 largest Indian cities. Findings reveal that densification in Indian cities reduces the amount of transport as well as enhances the probability of using public transport. Small and medium sized cities predominantly use private transport, whereas large cities prefer public transport but lack non-motorized transportation. Moreover, income is the most important determinant of the amount of transport and the use of motorized and private transport. The top quintile is the only with positive income elasticity of transport demand. Results show that public and non-motorized transport infrastructures will provide sustainable and inclusive development, besides other co-benefits, such as energy security. Based on these findings, several policy recommendations are proposed to improve the sustainability and inclusivity of urban mobility in Indian cities.


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


Transport Policy Home Page: