School Transportation Mode Choice and Potential Impacts of Automated Vehicle Location Technology

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Title: School Transportation Mode Choice and Potential Impacts of Automated Vehicle Location Technology
Author: Rhoulac, Tori D.
Advisors: Dr. John F. Monahan, Committee Member
Dr. John R. Stone, Committee Member
Dr. Joseph E. Hummer, Committee Member
Dr. Nagui M. Rouphail, Committee Chair
Abstract: School-related traffic congestion is a large problem in North Carolina and throughout the nation. North Carolina Department of Transportation works with schools and municipalities to better design and retrofit campuses to accommodate the vehicular volumes that often queue onto adjacent streets and cause long delays. The large number of school trips made by automobile not only cause traffic problems, but safety problems as well, made evident by injury and fatality statistics. The goal of this research was to ultimately enhance student safety and reduce school-related traffic problems by gaining a better understanding of the household attributes and behaviors that influence school transportation mode choice in order to identify problems and prioritize solutions for school transportation, including school bus service improvements through automated vehicle location (AVL). The primary research objective was to calibrate a school transportation mode choice model for a selected North Carolina school district. Mode choice models were developed based on factors exhibiting statistical significance in estimating the choice of automobile or school bus for the morning and afternoon school trips of children in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Wake County Public School System. The variable expressing the convenience of the school bus service for a household based on parent work schedules, perceived problems, and AVL improvements was the most influential. Model transferability tests suggest that the models can be used statewide in schools or school districts where actual automobile usage ranges from about 30 to 55% of all school trips in the morning and 15 to 40% in the afternoon. The significant contribution of this research is the application of mode choice probability modeling to the grade school population. An assessment of the potential for AVL technologies to prompt a modal shift to the school bus was also included. Results suggest that 38% of students currently using the automobile for their morning school trips may shift to the school bus, indicating potential for a 16% overall modal shift to the school bus with the addition of AVL tracking and paging technologies.
Date: 2003-07-18
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Civil Engineering

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