The Impact of the Sharing Economy on Latent Individual Modal Preference

Thus far, the influence of carsharing and public bikesharing services on travel mode choice behavior has only been studied at the aggregate level. Given that carsharing and public bikesharing services can potentially force a shift in latent individual modal preferences away from the automobile and towards more multimodal lifestyles, including them within a traditional model of travel mode choice as additional alternatives is not enough. It is vital that the model also capture their impact on the redistribution of individuals across different modality styles. Traditional models of travel mode choice assume that individuals are aware of the full range of alternatives at their disposal, and that a conscious choice is made based on a tradeoff between perceived costs and benefits associated with level-of-service attributes, and individual and household characteristics. While such a representation of travel mode choice behavior is convenient from the standpoint of model estimation, it overlooks the effects of inertia, incomplete information and indifference that are reflective of more profound variations in latent individual modal preferences, or modality styles. Since the impact of carsharing and public bikesharing services on travel mode choice behavior is expected to be through their ability to force a change in existing modality styles, traditional travel demand models that overlook the existence of modality styles shall clearly prove inadequate.