Variability in daily activity-travel patterns: the case of a one-week travel diary

Charles Raux, Tai Yu Ma, Eric Cornelis

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Introduction: Understanding temporal rhythms in travel and activity patterns has been recognized as an important issue for the effective management of urban congestion. Research issues related to this topic concern the degree to which travel behaviour varies from one day to another, the differences between weekday and weekend travel, and the determinants of variability. Thanks to a seven-day travel diary collected for 707 individuals in the city of Ghent (Belgium) in 2008, this study goes further by studying this variability according to various time periods within the week and by analysing interpersonal and intrapersonal variations according to the varying attributes of activity-travel patterns. Methods: Different variance indicators and the sequential alignment method are applied for the measurement of variability of travel-activity behaviour. Moreover, the influence of individual characteristics on these variations is examined. Results: The overall picture of a large intrinsic variability in travel behaviour (i.e. trip or home-based tour generation) is confirmed. There is more difference in the number of trips per day for a given individual depending on the various days of week than there is between individuals per se, not including the weekend period, and this aspect is reinforced when considering home-based tours. Unlike the case of trip generation, there is greater difference between persons in their daily time allocation to various activities than between days for a given person in general, either during working days or during the weekend. This is also the case for daily activity sequence. Finally, the influence of socio-demographic characteristics on intrapersonal variability is weak, whether for daily trips, tours, time use or activity sequence. Conclusions: The large level of intrapersonal variability in daily trip numbers already demonstrated in the literature is confirmed. Systematic day-to-day variability is shown to have an extremely low share in intrapersonal variability. The global picture is that intrapersonal variability is large while systematic day-to-day variability is marginal. Moreover, a striking result is that socio-demographic characteristics are mostly unable to explain the level of intrapersonal variability. The results reveal that individual behaviour is neither completely habitual nor completely random. On the one hand, intrapersonal variability is more important than the interpersonal one as regards daily trip numbers for the realization of mobility needs. On the other hand, activity time allocation and sequencing show an inverse trend, which can be linked with the habitual part of behaviour and the social role of the individual (through e.g. work, childcare and other activities).

langue originaleAnglais
Numéro d'article26
journalEuropean Transport Research Review
Numéro de publication4
Les DOIs
Etat de la publicationPublié - 1 déc. 2016

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