Disentangling the behavioural side of the first and last mile problem: the role of modality style and the built environment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, ridership - mode choice, ridership - behaviour, land use - impacts, planning - surveys, policy - sustainable


First and last mile, modality style, mode choice, latent class choice model


The first and last mile (FLM) problem, namely the poor connection between trip origins or destination and public transport stations, is a significant obstacle to sustainable transportation as it is likely to encourage the use of cars for FLM travel, if not for the entire trip. This study examines the role of modality style and built environment in FLM mode choice behaviour, in order to identify the key features that might invoke a travel mode shift from cars to more sustainable travel options for both mandatory and discretionary trips. More specifically, this study draws on disaggregate data from the South East Queensland household travel survey and presents a latent class choice model to unravel modality style groups. Results reveal two distinct individual-level modality style groups: (1) driving and walking oriented; (2) multimodal travellers. Individuals in the second modality style group were found to be relatively inelastic to FLM travel time for mandatory trips, while individuals in the first group were largely unaffected by built environment characteristics and highly habitual in their mode choice behaviour for both mandatory and discretionary trips. Home residence environments with high road intersection density and public transport accessibility, and home residence environments with diverse land use mix, respectively encourage individuals within the second modality style to walk for mandatory trips, and discretionary trips. To this end, when place-based policies seek to change certain built environment features, individuals in the second modality style are more likely to shift their preference from cars to more sustainable modes. Finally, our findings have practical planning implications in targeting mode shift through highlighting the importance of considering the intersection of individual modality style in a given locale and mode choice behaviour. More specifically, our findings advocate for place-based policies that seek to target particular locales with the certain modality style deemed to be more predisposed to adopting a mode shift.


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


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