Car ownership and commuting mode of the “original” residents in a high-density city center: A case study in Shanghai


  • Tao Chen Tongji university
  • Haixiao Pan Department of Urban Planning; Key Laboratory of Ecology and Energy-saving Study of Dense Habitat, Tongji University
  • Yanbo Ge University of Washington



Vehicle Ownership, Commuting Behavior, City Center Residents, TOD


As a result of rapid urbanization and motorization in China, numerous mega-cities have emerged, and large numbers of people live and work in the city centers. Consequently, developing a public transport-oriented urban structure and promoting sustainable development are major planning strategies for the country. To understand the impact of rail transit on motorization in a high-density city center, we conduct a household travel survey in three neighborhoods around metro stations in the central area of Shanghai. We examine the car buying and commuting behavior of those Shanghai “original” residents who lived there when the city began growing, engulfing them in the center.

Studies have shown that 40 percent of commuters in the city center commute outward, following a virtually reversed commute pattern, and the factors significantly affecting their car purchasing choice include their attitude toward cars and transit, household incomes, ownership of the apartments they live in, and the distance between family members’ workplaces and nearest metro stations. Despite easy access to the metro from their home in the city center, those who purchase their apartment units also likely own a car, while those who rent their apartment units are less likely to own a car; however, these odds are still higher than for those who live in an apartment unit inherited from their relatives or provided by their company. In the city center, if a family owns a car, then that car would almost certainly be used for daily commuting.

A multinomial logistic model is applied to examine the factors influencing the tendency for using cars. The results show that people’s choices of commuting by alternative modes rather than cars are also shaped by their attitude toward public transportation, but other factors can also subtly change people’s commuting behavior under certain conditions. The commuting distance discourages people from walking and taking buses (but not metro). As the egress distance to the workplace increases, the metro becomes less appealing than cars. Mixed land use encourages people to walk or take buses instead of driving. Older people prefer riding buses and walking to driving, and female respondents tend to prefer walking, cycling, and riding the metro to driving compared to male respondents. These findings contribute to understanding the behavior of people who are familiar with public transportation and how to encourage them to switch from driving cars to alternative transport modes.


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How to Cite

Chen, T., Pan, H., & Ge, Y. (2021). Car ownership and commuting mode of the “original” residents in a high-density city center: A case study in Shanghai. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 14(1), 105-124.