Heterogeneity in mode choice behavior: A spatial latent class approach based on accessibility measures
Keywords:walkability, discrete choice modeling, latent class modeling, urban planning, travel behavior, built environment
We propose a method to estimate mode choice models, where preference parameters are sensitive to the spatial context of the trip origin, challenging traditional assumptions of spatial homogeneity in the relationship between travel modes and the built environment. The framework, called Spatial Latent Classes (SLC), is based on the integrated choice and latent class approach, although instead of defining classes for the decision maker, it estimates the probability of a location belonging to a class, as a function of spatial attributes. For each Spatial Latent Class, a different mode choice model is specified, and the resulting behavioral model for each location is a weighted average of all class-specific models, which is estimated to maximize the likelihood of reproducing observed travel behavior. We test our models with data from Portland, Oregon, specifying spatial class membership models as a function of local and regional accessibility measures. Results show the SLC increases model fit when compared with traditional methods and, more importantly, allows segmenting urban space into meaningful zones, where predominant travel behavior patterns can be easily identified. We believe this is a very intuitive way to spatially analyze travel behavior trends, allowing policymakers to identify target areas of the city and the accessibility levels required to attain desired modal splits.
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