Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

What about Effective Access to Cars in Motorised Households?

Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

What about Effective Access to Cars in Motorised Households?

Article excerpt


Literature on urban travel behaviour usually defines captive users of public transit systems as individuals without car access (Rutherford and Wekerle 1988; Polzin et al. 2000). Analysts estimate the proportion of carless people as stabilising at somewhere between one-fifth and one-fourth of urban population (Daniels and Warnes 1980). One segment of captive users is relatively easy to identify, i.e., individuals belonging to carless households. Indeed, most urban transportation planning models define captive users in this way (Lian 1991). This does not take into account the strong likelihood that some members of car-owning households do not always have access to a car (Caralampo 1991; Polzin et al. 2000). These individuals can be considered as 'restricted car users', an intermediate category between carless households or carless individuals and those who have virtually continuous access to a car. How do we identify restricted car users? Who are they? Where do they live? Do their numbers fluctuate during the day?

These questions appear important in the context of required improvements to planning and marketing urban-transit services. Transit agencies often concentrate their efforts on offering an alternative means of transport to car owners, who probably constitute their main market potential. However, even if their numbers are more limited, restricted car users represent, theoretically at least, a more ready market since they do not have continuous access to a car. This paper has two objectives: first, to describe individuals with restricted car access and track recent changes in car access in motorised households; second, to develop a multivariate model of car access in motorised households. To attain these objectives, we established a logical typology of forms of restricted access to cars based on a combination of variables qualifying the degree of car access experienced by an individual at any given moment during the day. This typology was then applied to urban travel data obtained from the Quebec Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) for two time periods, 1981 and 1996. This empirical application allows us to describe the sociospatial characteristics of trips characterised by restricted car access originating in motorised households and to analyse determinants of effective car access in motorised households using a multivariate model.

Modes of Mobility and Car Access within Cities

Urban residents can be situated on a continuum in terms of propensity to use public transit services. At one end of the continuum are individuals with zero propensity, i.e., those who always have a satisfactory transportation alternative at their disposal. At the other end is maximum propensity to use public transit, as alternatives are unavailable. The alternative most often referred to is the privately owned car. Consequently, the transit captive market can be empirically defined as individuals without car access.

This definition illustrates the extent to which our society is car-oriented. In North America, captives of the private car market, i.e., those who do hot enjoy suitable alternatives, probably outnumber transit market captives. In this paper, the term 'carless individuals' is more widely used than the usual notion of captive riders, which we believe casts public transit in a negative light, suggesting one specific value system.

Interest in the notion of restricted mobility in urban space is hOt limited to transportation planning per se. It also has an impact, for instance, on the functioning of local labour markets. Montreal-based data on the relationship between occupational and spatial mobility show that construction of a subway system in the late sixties significantly increased female access to the Central Business District job market (Villeneuve and Rose 1988). Similarly, in their report based on Toronto data, Rutherford and Wekerle (1988) show that, although the gender wage differential is primarily due to professional and spatial gender segregation, mobility or the capacity to travel still partially explains this differential. …

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