Rubén M.Cenzano

Chartered Civil Engineer specialised in Transportation

Ingeniero de Caminos especialista en Transporte

relationship between mode choice and commuting stress

Posted On Thursday, 15 October 2015


We talked about how commuting was increasingly stressful in Europe some months ago. We find now a new research on this topic.

There’s nothing quite like the unpredictability of traffic when it comes to commuter stress. The survey measured the various objective (e.g. travel time budgets) and subjective (e.g. trip pleasantness) stressors felt by some 3,800 students, faculty, and staff of McGill University during their commute on a typical winter day. Drivers had the highest average stress, largely owing to “unexpected delays”:
This additional time budget indicates that they have, perhaps paradoxically, less control over their commute than commuters on other modes. Frequent and unpredictable occurrences require of them a peremptory stance toward their commute, where extra time becomes the best way to assure arriving to work or school on time. Active transportation modes are not only environmentally and socially more sustainable, they are also a less stressful way to travel.

On[e] way to increase pedestrian mode-share is to protect walkers from traffic and provide more pleasant and more comfortable streets to walk on. Furthermore, public transportation is also less stressful than driving, which is found to involve (somewhat perversely) less control for commuters. Increasing the predictability and range of transit options in an era of increasing driving unpredictability could lead to a greater transit mode share. 
That last line is key. Driving might be the most stressful commute mode, but it often remains the most common one out of necessity. When there’s a reliable alternative, however, commuters respond accordingly—in the current study sample, 54% rode transit and 29% walked, with only 17% driving to work.
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