On the Impact of Income, Age, and Travel Distance on the Value of Time

The value of time (VOT) is a fundamental component used in transportation modeling, policy analysis, and economic appraisal. Decades of research and practice have empirically estimated the VOT across many factors (e.g., mode, purpose, time, comfort, etc.), yet little is known about its underlying form. Although it is well established that VOT can vary, it is still unclear whether patterns exist in this variation. The objective of this paper is not to merely estimate the VOT, but to model the VOT across multiple continuous and interacting variables. The purpose is to reveal its functional form with respect to mode, age, gender, purpose, income, and time of day to provide a generalizable understanding for future research and practice. Such an understanding can help develop simpler models and reduce the need for bespoke estimations for every conceivable variable perturbation. This research utilized a household travel survey containing 14,159 reported trips with imputed travel time and costs for the alternative mode choices. The average overall estimated VOT is 40.32 $/h, with results showing VOT varying log-linearly with income and trip distance, but following a Gaussian function (normal curve) with age. Overall, the results show that travel distance dominates VOT variation, which increases exponentially at a rate that is 3.61 times higher per mile of distance than per $10,000 of income, and that VOT by age peaks at age 54. This basic understanding of how the VOT varies sets the foundation for answering the subsequent question for why it might vary.


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  • Accession Number: 01758737
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Nov 14 2020 3:04PM