Pat Mokhtarian on telecommunications, travel and cars

Here’s some video where Dr. Mohktarian discusses the implications of her work for future transport in cities:

Patricia Mokhtarian – We still need handshakes.

Here is a selection of her work on the subject:

Mokhtarian, P.L., 1990. A typology of relationships between telecommunications and transportation. Transportation Research 24A (3), 231–242.

Mokhtarian, P.L., 1998. A synthetic approach to estimating the impacts of telecommuting on travel. Urban Studies 35 (2), 215–241.

Mokhtarian, P.L., 2000. Telecommunications and travel. In: Transportation in the New Millennium, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, National Academy of Science, Washington, DC. Available from:here.

Mokhtarian, P.L., 2002. Telecommunications and travel: The case for complementarity. Journal of Industrial Ecology 6 (2), 43–57. Mokhtarian, P.L., Meenakshisundaram, R., 1999. Beyond tele-substitution: disaggregate longitudinal structural equations modeling of communication impacts. Transportation Research 7C (1), 33–52.

Mokhtarian, P.L., Salomon, I., 2002. Emerging travel patterns: Do telecommunications make a difference? In: Mahmassani, H.S. (Ed.), In
Perpetual Motion: Travel Behaviour Research Opportunities and Application Challenges. Pergamon Press/Elsevier, New York, pp. 143–182.

Mokhtarian, P.L., Handy, S.L., Salomon, I., 1995. Methodological issues in the estimation of the travel, energy, and air quality impacts of telecommuting. Transportation Research 29A (4), 283–302.

Choo, S. & Mokhtarian, P. L. (2007). Telecommunications and travel demand and supply: Aggregate structural equation models for the US. Transportation Research Part A, 41(1), 4-18.

When you are a young scholar, you get to meet people whose work you’ve admired for years and years. When I first read Pat Mokhtarian’s work on telecommuting, the lights went on–a lot like when I read Randy Crane’s and Marlon Boarnet’s work. These were policy and planning people who understood and applied economic thinking to cities. Just because you provide additional, alternative options to auto travel does not mean that auto usage in the aggregate will shrivel. It probably means more travel overall because now people have more ways of getting around. Yes, some substituting goes on for some individuals, but for public policy, but what actually matters is overall VMT reduction, and nothing about additional supply of alternative modes guarantees overall VMT reductions because nothing keeps people from simply consuming more of all types of mobility options. “Ooo! A wonderful train to work! I shall take that instead of drive!” Victory, we planners exclaim! But then suddenly your stay-at-home spouse has a car available during the day and starts to use it more. Or, the same decision-maker says “Ha! I take the train the work, and since I’m not annoyed by driving for my commute, I will take the car after work to visit my friends in the far-flung suburb when I would otherwise beg off.” Those may be utility-increasing, but they are not necessarily VMT-reducing scenarios. They may be congestion-dampening, however.

Mokhtarian is part of an absolutely amazing cluster of scholars at the University of California Davis doing research on transportation: Dan Sperling, Deb Niemeier, Michael Zhang, Mark DeLucchi, and Sue Handy.

2 thoughts on “Pat Mokhtarian on telecommunications, travel and cars

  1. I agree with you for 99%. Would like to add Ryuichi Kitamura in the list of the end.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Prof. Schweitzer! BTW, my latest manifesto on the relationship between telecom and travel is:

    Mokhtarian, P. L., 2009. If telecommunication is such a good substitute for travel, why does congestion continue to get worse? Transportation Letters 1 (1), 1-17.

    It organizes the literature into 12 reasons why telecom won’t reduce travel (on net), and 4 reasons why it sometimes does.

    @Hiro: Absolutely. The late Ryuichi Kitamura was heavily responsible for recruiting me to UCD in 1990, continued to have a huge influence on my thinking and my career even after he took a prestigious position at his alma mater, Kyoto University, in 1993. The international travel behavior community is still mourning his untimely passing in February 2009. He was brilliant, thoughtful, a generous mentor of young scholars, and possessed of a sense of humor that always left us wanting more. I miss him daily.

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