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Why do people travel? We traditionally assume traveling is a means to an end, travel demand is derived (from the demand for activities), and travel time is to be minimized. Recently, scholars have questioned these axioms, noting that some people may like to travel, use travel time productively, enjoy the experience of traveling, or travel for non-utilitarian reasons. The idea that travel can provide benefits and may be motivated by factors beyond reaching activity destinations is known as “the positive utility of travel” or PUT.

This study presents a conceptual and empirical look at the positive utility of travel and its influence on travel behavior. First, PUT is linked to concepts like utility, motivation, and subjective well-being, and categorized into destination activities, travel activities (multitasking), and travel experiences. Then, preliminary results from a 2016 survey of Portland-area commuters are presented. Finally, implications of the PUT concept for transportation planning and policy are discussed.

Biographical Information

Patrick Singleton is a PhD candidate in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Portland State University. His research spans the areas of travel behavior, transportation planning, and travel demand modeling, with a special interest in walking and bicycling. Patrick's dissertation explores a concept known as "the positive utility of travel": studying the benefits people receive from traveling beyond simply reaching a destination, including the productive use of travel time and enjoyment of the travel experience itself. He holds a Master of Science degree from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Outside of school, you are likely to find Patrick exploring and photographing his current city.


Choice of transportation -- Decision making, Commuting -- Forecasting, Walking -- Forecasting, Cycling -- Forecasting, Urban transportation -- Planning


Transportation | Transportation Engineering | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

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Exploring the Positive Utility of Travel and Mode Choice



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