Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Toward Sustainable Transportation: Exploring Transportation Decision Making in Teleworking Households in a Mid-Sized Canadian City

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Toward Sustainable Transportation: Exploring Transportation Decision Making in Teleworking Households in a Mid-Sized Canadian City

Article excerpt


There is growing awareness that Canadian urban transportation systems are not sustainable. However, we have only a limited understanding of how travel decisions are affected by policy or other circumstantial changes that are purported to address sustainability concerns. This paper reports on an in-depth, small-sample experiment designed to explore issues that require nontraditional travel data. The locus is on household-level responses to a vehicle-reduction scenario in the context of teleworking households in a mid-sized Canadian city. The study design allows for comparisons of 'actual' versus 'gamed' activity and travel patterns. Two themes were explored: telework as an enabler of travel changes; and the persistence of and reasons for auto dependency within teleworking households. Results suggest that teleworking households have a high capacity to adapt to a vehicle-reduction scenario, while making only minor changes to activity patterns. Despite the ability to change, the six participating households displayed continued auto reliance. Barriers that prevent telework from reaching its potential as an auto-reduction strategy emerged during the game.

Keywords: Telework, transportation, activity diary, stated-adaptation game


Il y a une prise de conscience croissante que les systemes urbains canadiens de transport ne sont pas renouvelable. Cependant, nous avons une comprehension limitee de la facon dont la prise de decision de voyage est entache par la politique ou d'autres changements circonstanciels qui sont censes adresser des soucis de la viabilite ecologique. Dans cette etude, un jeu d'enoncer-adaptation a ate developpe et applique a un petit echantillon de menages canadiens qui teletravail a domicile afin d'explorer les processus du niveau du menage, la prise de decision de voyager dans une ville domine de voiture de serie intermediaire. Des menages qui ont autrefois eu deux ou trois vahicules ont eta invites reformuler leur semaine ayant seulement une automobile disponible. Le jeu fournit des points sur le teletravail comme un activateur de changements du comporternent de voyage. Les resultats suggerent que les menages qui teletravail ont une capacite elevee de s'adapter a un scenario de reduction de vehicule, tout en faisant seulement des changements mineurs aux modeles d'activite. En depit de la capacite de changer, tousles manages participants ont montre une continuita d'un besoin de voiture. Les resultats accentuent les obstacles empechant le teletravail d'atteindre sa pleine capacite comme stratagie de Gestion de la demande en transport (GDT).

Mots cles: Taletravail, transport, journal d'activite, jeu affirme-adaptation


Several reports highlight the high level of auto dependence in urban areas of Canada (Pucher 1998; The Centre for Sustainable Transportation 2002; Miller and Shalaby 2003), and much has been written about the environmental and social costs associated with such intensive auto use (e.g., Transport Canada 2001). There is thus growing interest in how both technology and policy may help to move Canadian cities in a more sustainable direction. Particular attention has been given to behavioural solutions under the umbrella of transportation demand management (TDM) (Litman 2002). TDM measures are intended to alter some aspects of transportation demand such as trip generation, travel mode, timing, route, or vehicle occupancy in order to improve the efficiency of the existing transport system and/or reduce the negative consequences of travel. In an operational sense, TDM initiatives are usually intended to reduce auto use in favour of other forms of communication or travel. Although TDM is being promoted in a number of forums (e.g. Transportation Climate Change Table 1999; Transport Canada 2002; Canadian Telework Association 2003), its formal integration into municipal plans has occurred only recently and to a limited extent (Lim 1997; Robinson 1997; Stewart and Pringle 1997). …

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