Quantifying the Relative Contribution of Factors to Household Vehicle Miles of Travel

Venu Garikapati, Abhilash Singh, Sebastian Astroza, Ram Pendyala, Chandra Bhat, Patricia Mokhtarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus Citations


Household vehicle miles of travel (VMT) has been exhibiting a steady growth in post-recession years in the United States and has reached record levels in 2017. With transportation accounting for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, planning professionals are increasingly seeking ways to curb vehicular travel to advance sustainable, vibrant, and healthy communities. Although there is considerable understanding of the various factors that influence household vehicular travel, there is little knowledge of their relative contribution to explaining variance in household VMT. This paper presents a holistic analysis to identify the relative contribution of socio-economic and demographic characteristics, built environment attributes, residential self-selection effects, and social and spatial dependency effects in explaining household VMT production. The modeling framework employs a simultaneous equations model of residential location (density) choice and household VMT generation. The analysis is performed using household travel survey data from the New York metropolitan region. Model results showed insignificant spatial dependency effects, with socio-demographic variables explaining 33 percent, density (as a key measure of built environment attributes) explaining 12 percent, and self-selection effects explaining 11 percent of the total variance in the logarithm of household VMT. The remaining 44 percent remains unexplained and attributable to omitted variables and unobserved idiosyncratic factors, calling for further research in this domain to better understand the relative contribution of various drivers of household VMT.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-71654


  • Built environment effects
  • Demographic effects
  • Residential self-selection
  • Social-spatial dependence
  • Vehicle miles of travel (VMT)


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