Trip Making Patterns of NC's University Students

North Carolina has a rich history of educational opportunities for students in higher education. There are about 150 universities and colleges across North Carolina and higher education enrollment is expected to increase in coming years. University student trip making can be an important component of overall transportation demand, particularly in a town such as Boone with a population of 13,000, but with 16,000 students at Appalachian State University. Despite the importance of university student trips in communities with university campuses, the trip making patterns of university students are neither well understood nor well represented in travel demand models. The lack of observed information on the travel behaviors of university students leads university student trips to not be well represented in travel demand models. The typical practice is to treat university students the same as the general population; assuming they have similar travel behaviors as one-person households with low income. However, the differences in travel behavior between a regular one-person low-income household and a university student are obvious: 1) university students have more mandatory trips to make, such as trips to classes; 2) university students make more recreation trips as they have much better access to university recreation facilities, such as a gym. The trip distance, activity duration, travel mode choices, and trip making time distributions of low income households and university students can also be very different. Very few surveys have been conducted to collect university student travel behavior in North Carolina. Such a survey was conducted at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in the spring of 2001. This survey provided valuable insights, and has been used for developing travel demand models in North Carolina, including especially the Triangle Regional Model and a model for NC State University. The trip patterns of other universities could be different due to different enrollment sizes, different demographic and geographic characteristics, and especially different school types. Without a thorough study, it is not possible to confidently model this population’s travel behavior. This project will provide valuable observed behavior data to allow transportation professionals to investigate and resolve on- and off-campus transportation problems more systematically and improve campus transportation planning and operations. It can also help advance transportation system modeling practice, such as university transportation models, metropolitan planning organization (MPO) models, and possibly to improve the North Carolina Statewide Model. The project will develop models of university student travel behavior that can be used for models of communities that include colleges and universities throughout the state. These improvements will increase the credibility of the travel demand models and long range transportation plans. Since university students are a major user of transit and non-motorized modes, analysis of the data collected by this project could be used to provide insights for the Air Quality Analysis and New Starts projects in North Carolina, including whether university students are a potential market for New Starts projects and how parking policies might affect regional air quality. Data transferability will be emphasized to allow the data collected in the course of this study to be used for communities that are not surveyed. This investment in data collection will pay dividends for many years in the form of improved models and analysis.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $149935.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    North Carolina Department of Transportation

    Research and Development
    1549 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
  • Project Managers:

    Kirby, John

  • Performing Organizations:

    North Carolina State University, Raleigh

    Institute for Transportation Research and Education
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27695-7908
  • Principal Investigators:

    Huegy, Joseph

  • Start Date: 20120815
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140816
  • Source Data: RiP Project 32195

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01467094
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: FHWA/NC/2013-32
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:28PM