Mode-valued differences of in-vehicle travel time Savings

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - car, ridership - mode choice


Value of time, Mode choice, Microeconomics, Activity schedule, Discrete-continuous


The value of in-vehicle travel time savings (VT) estimated from mode-choice models has been sometimes found to be higher for private car than for public transportation. This mode-valued variation may seem paradoxical, if public transportation (especially the bus) is perceived as less pleasant than the private car, and because mode-valued differences in the VT cannot be attributed to self-selection. This article describes two alternative microeconomic explanations for this empirical finding. The first follows from noticing that the marginal consumption of goods may depend on travel time, but differently for each mode. A marginal reduction in travel time induces marginal savings in the consumption of goods like fuel or oil, but those marginal savings are perceived by the user only when conditioning on the use of the car. This effect can be explicitly accounted with the inclusion of technical constraints relating goods consumption and time assignment in the microeconomic framework of the VT. The second explanation follows from noticing that the activity schedule does not need to be the same conditional on the use of each mode. Since the car is usually faster and more accessible, a schedule constructed conditional on the use of the car could be more complex, justifying higher values of time as a resource for that mode. The article finishes illustrating the proposed explanations with an example and then summarizing the contributions of this research and proposing lines for further investigation.


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