The study focuses on the short-run market demand for commuter rail service. In the short run, the total market demand for transport can be assumed constant, because there is insufficient time to adjust locational factors such as employment and residence that determine one's transport needs. Empirical evidence was obtained from the Boston area. Methodologically: (1) a theory of consumer demand for commuter rail transport is developed; (2) a model of market demand is developed; and (3) the results of least squares regression estimation of the parameters of the demand equation are presented and evaluated. The strong significance of the income and relative travel time variables suggests that rail demand is most sensitive to changes in time cost, whether these changes result from changes in travel time or in the opportunity cost of this time. Moreover, commuters tend to place greater emphasis on time-minimization for peak-hour trips, which are generally work trips, than on the more occasional, leisure-oriented, off-peak trip. Evidences of this are the signs on the income coefficients, which suggest a higher opportunity cost for peak time, and the comparatively greater magnitudes of the peak relative travel time coefficients. Thus attempts to divert auto commuters to rail transport by decreasing rail travel time should have a higher probability of success during the peak period, when in fact there is greater traffic congestion. Within the higher income range, where presumably private transport is used for the home-station trip, higher income levels are associated with increased rail demand. The middle-income commuter may opt for auto commutation, not because he judges rail transport to be unsatisfactory, but because, given his valuation of time, auto transport has a comparatively low total cost. If this interpretation is correct, the reduction of home-station travel time through the provision of efficient public transit to and from suburban rail stations should tend to increase rail demand.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    London School of Economics and Political Science

    Houghton Street, Aldwych
    London WC2A 2AE,   England 
  • Authors:
    • Mcdonough, C
  • Publication Date: 1973-5

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00054760
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 24 1981 12:00AM