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Exploring the effects of built environment, location and accessibility on travel time of long-distance commuters in Suzhou and Shanghai, China

Chung, Hyungchul, Yang, Yueming, Chen, Chia-in, Vickerman, Roger (2020) Exploring the effects of built environment, location and accessibility on travel time of long-distance commuters in Suzhou and Shanghai, China. Built Environment, 46 (3). pp. 342-361. ISSN 0263-7960. (KAR id:83229)


High-speed rail (HSR) enables time-space shrinkages, thus enlarging the extent of spatial interaction between cities connected by HSR. This opens up new opportunities for the decoupling of workplace and residence for those seeking improved employment options involving long-distance commuting, which did not appear attractive before the arrival of HSR. Although travel distance tends to increase over time, time spent on travel remains relatively stable. This paper attempts to explore door-to-door commuting patterns – the way commuting time is associated with three factors in practice; namely, the built environment, transport modes (from residence and workplace to HSR stations) and commute frequency. Econometric and statistical analyses are employed to examine evidence from China that draws on a survey targeting Suzhou-based HSR commuters who travel to work in Shanghai, a large neighbouring city.

The findings present three major points. First, a dense urban environment around residence and workplace is associated with reduced commuting time to high-density healthcare facilities (Suzhou and Shanghai) and financial institutions (Suzhou only). However, the density of public transport facilities near both residence and workplace has no association with commute time. Second, taking metro systems to and from HSR stations shows significant association with increased commuting time for the first and last miles, while walking from HSR stations to the workplace shows significant reduction of commuting time. Third, daily commuting is associated with reduced commuting time in the first mile, while weekly commuting is reversely related to longer commute time in the last mile, which is coupled with a shorter commuting time for the first mile than the last mile. Essentially, this could be attributed to different urban forms between home and work cities.

These findings lead us to conclude that reducing the total commuting time for a door-to-door journey is a key factor in associated commuting patterns, commuting frequency, and travel mode choice. This reflects the choices commuters make in relation to where they live rather than where they work, which offers fewer options. A longer last mile relates to a weekly commuting pattern rather than a daily commuting. The current public metro systems in both home and work cities appear to be lengthy and inefficient. Transit-oriented and integrated development is required to provide more efficient experiences for commuters.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: High Speed Rail (HSR), intercity commute, and long-distance travel, Suzhou, Shanghai
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Roger Vickerman
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2020 10:37 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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