An empirical analysis and policy implications of work tours utilizing public transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, land use - planning


Complex travel behavior, Work tours, Public transit, Commuters, NHTS


We analyze the complex travel behavior of workers who utilize public transit as part of their work tours (“transit commuters”). Here, complex travel behavior is defined in terms of tours, where a tour is defined as a sequence of trips and activities that begins and ends at the same location and a work tour contains at least one non-home, work activity. The objective of this study is to investigate how transit commuters link non-work activities as part of work tours under transit operational constraints. In particular, we identify dominant patterns of work tours made by transit commuters and analyze these tours using a set of activity-travel analytics and data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). The primary insights are: (1) about 80 percent of work tours consist of 7 dominant patterns whereas the remaining 20 percent of tours demonstrate a total of 106 diverse and more complicated patterns; (2) half of the transit work tours are complex; (3) most simple tours are transit-only tours whereas most complex tours are multi-modal tours; and (4) transit use is more complex than the traditional home to work commute with a diverse set of choices at various stages of activity scheduling. While policies associated with public transit typically focus only on the journey to work, this study considers the complete set of trips starting and ending at home including intermediate non-work activity, which can provide insights for land use and transit-related policies to better accommodate the complex travel behavior of commuters who utilize transit.


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


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