17 Nov

Geographical Review Preview: Distance decay effects on public transportation ridership in the context of a Metropolitan University Campus: Evidence from the Autonomous University of Barcelona

By: Guillem Vich and coauthored by Xavier Delclòs-Alió, Julio Soria-Lara, Oriol Marquet and Carme Miralles-Guasch

What is the main purpose of your study? 
This study analyses the influence of distance to railway station, the sociodemographic profile and commuting characteristics on the decision to use public transportation to travel to a Metropolitan University Campus in Spain.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study? 
Social status has shown to be a key factor influencing modal choice, even when distances to public transportation network are short. Moreover, not only the distance to public transportation facilities is important but also the number of transfers should be key criteria to optimize that public transportation network. Finally, the equal distribution of non-captive commuters has highlighted the importance of public transportation actions at the levels of municipalities have shown to be, for instance, parking-restricting policies.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
Despite the relevance of providing public transportation options to access university campuses, limited attention has been paid to the changes in modal choice caused by the distance between residences and public transportation stations. In previous literature related to university campus access, when distance has been considered, the attention has been mostly paid on distances between mobility campuses, city centers, and residences. However, few studies have explored the influence of distance between homes and public transportation stations on the election of public transport when commuting to the campus.

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study? 

  • The distance to the nearest transit station connecting with a suburban university campus, the UAB campus, is the strongest factor among commuters that have the option to choose among different transportation options.
  • Employees of this campus show a higher sensitivity to the distance to public transportation stations than students, with these differences not appearing at short distance thresholds (500m) but at further ones (from 1000m onwards), in comparison to other university community groups.
  •  In the case of the UAB campus, findings show how 1500m can be considered as a maximum threshold at which the use of public transportation can be effectively incentivized.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study? 
Although distances are the same for everyone, the way we perceive them and the effort we are willing make to overcome them are different. This study adds to travel behavior studies exploring the role of geographical distances. In this line, travel behavior has been shown to be highly dependable on how these distances are perceived, on individual habits, but also on possibilities and constraints determined by the socioeconomic profile of daily travelers.

How does your research help us think about Geography? 

Figure 3. Example of shortest route between a residence and the nearest railway station entrance.

Figure 4. Survival analysis of the probability of commuting by public transportation by distance to the nearest public transport stop of different types of University community members, controlled by all covariate factors.


To access the full articles, become an AGS affiliate and get free online access!
Click here to read the abstract of this article.