Modal Shift: Myth or reality

We’re all hoping for a modal shift to ease some of the congestion and parking problems we’re all facing but what are the chances of people opting not to use their car? 

Not much, if we just hope. We need to be bold and essentially move ahead with, inter alia, plans for intermodal transport hubs. There is so much scope for such plans and they could help offset some of the congestion at peak times. The drawback here is that we have no idea how people will respond to such plans. We lack research in estimating modal shift in terms of alternative transport modes though it’s never too late to carry out such research.

To predict modal shift for a specific alternative transport mode, a mode choice model is recommended. This would enable mode choice prediction for work trips and other types of trips given available transport modes. A survey would of course be required to describe car users receptiveness to alternative modes of transport. The explanatory variable included in the model would comprise demographic, socio-economic characteristics of individuals, trip characteristics and mode attributes. A binary logit model would then be used to identify factors that are significant in determining the choice of transport and predict the probabilities of change in travelling by car to an alternative mode of transport with respect to various times and cost. Conducting this study, however, requires six months as a minimum and could actually last the best part of a year.

Without this research predicting modal shift is somewhat a leap of faith. This notwithstanding, we need to move ahead with plans for intermodal transport hubs. The benefits of such plans should outweigh the costs and people will surely respond positively to alternative options, if these render their lives easier.