Does Lacking a Car Put the Brakes on Activity Participation? Private Vehicle Access and Access to Opportunities among Low-Income Adults

Private vehicle travel entails costs to society. However, in a world designed around the automobile, adults who lack access to a vehicle for economic reasons may experience a significant handicap due to constrained mobility and accessibility. This paper examines whether private vehicle access is associated with the quantity and quality of out-of-home activities in which low-income individuals participate. The authors use pooled data from multiple time use surveys and employ Cragg two-part hurdle modeling to determine whether there is an association between household vehicle access and participation in twelve types of out-of-home activity. Further, the authors examine travel time by mode for those with and without vehicles. Finally, they use American Time Use Survey data and fixed-effects panel models to determine the amount of subjective well-being (SWB) that is associated with out-of-home activity types. A lack of private vehicle access is associated with significantly less out-of-home activity participation, both in the aggregate and for seven of the twelve individual activities. Moreover, the activities most likely to be foregone by those without vehicles are generally associated with high SWB, suggesting that constrained mobility comes with significant emotional costs. Finally, respondents with vehicle access spend more total time traveling, although those without cars partially offset spending less time in private vehicles with higher use of alternate modes. Overall, the findings suggest that lack of a private vehicle is deleterious for quality of life, raising troubling questions about the inequity that may arise when people are denied access to vehicles for economic reasons.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADD20 Standing Committee on Social and Economic Factors of Transportation.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Morris, Eric A
    • Blumenberg, Evelyn
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 6p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01698125
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-00829
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:46AM