Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Lisa Aultman-Hall

Abstract

This thesis examines several nuanced issues, including equitable access, regarding long-distance intercity travel. In the United States, studies of transportation equity focus on affordable access to local destinations and basic services. The limited studies of long-distance intercity travel focus on observed demand, ignoring latent or unmet demand. Both quantitative and qualitative data are used to explore the differences between those who participate in long-distance travel and those with unmet need for it. This thesis found that the ability to participate in long-distance travel plays a role in one’s overall well-being. Undertaking long-distance trips facilitates access to opportunity for cultural and educational experiences, as well as the maintenance and creation of social capital, factors which were indicated by study participants.

The first part of the thesis examines equity in access to long-distance travel between individuals by using data from a state-wide survey completed by 2,232 Vermonters for the Vermont Agency of Transportation in 2016. Five ordinal logistic regression models that approximate different levels of realized and unmet travel are used to understand how access to intercity travel differs by socioeconomic, geographic location, and household characteristics. A total of 22 percent of respondents indicated they had unmet demand at least once per year. Furthermore, there was a significant correlation between those who had unmet demand within Vermont and outside of Vermont, proxies for local and intercity travel, respectively. Income level, Internet access, and education level were found to be significant predictors of realized long-distance travel. Household size and composition, household vehicles, age, income, and self-reported urban residence were predictors of both unmet local and long-distance travel need. In addition, full-time employment was significant for local unmet need, while miles to the nearest metropolitan area was a significant predictor for longer travel needs. Models of actual travel were stronger than for unmet demand, indicating that other unmeasured predictor variables may be important, thus requiring qualitative exploration.

The second part of the thesis consists of an in-depth examination using semi-structured interviews regarding intercity travel with 24 women living in Chittenden County, Vermont. In addition to the qualitative survey methods, data from a social network geography survey designed specifically for the study and an overall well-being survey were used. Interviews were coded by theme relating to travel type, barriers to travel, and impact on quality of life. A majority of participants felt long-distance travel was very important or essential to their well-being and they wished to increase the amount they did. Additionally, participants felt the need to meet with friends and family in-person, therefore necessitating long-distance travel to those who lived further away. There was also a discrepancy between the desire to meet with friends and family and how often the participants actually were able to do so. Those with higher incomes had less unmet long-distance travel need.

Language

en

Number of Pages

184 p.

Available for download on Saturday, September 21, 2019

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