Travel demand models implicitly assume that people respond to changes in a continuous way. This is in contrast to the physical sciences, where discontinuous response is a common phenomenon and is embodied in such concepts as sub-critical and supercritical states.
Recent studies have shown that responses to transport policies differ in degree and kind according to the nature and severity of the stimulus and the types of people affected. Response patterns may be categorised by the extent to which they involve adjustments to spatio-temporal or inter-personal linkages. This paper identifies four response domains, with a further distinction between permissive and forced changes.
Most travel demand models are designed to operate within an independent, forced (and to a less extent independent permissive) domain and their forecasts become unreliable when responses lie outside that domain. Conversely, a model designed for a more complex domain is unnecessarily cumbersome where simpler responses apply. This paper describes the types of model which are appropriate for each domain and discusses how the effects of a policy may be assigned to the correct domain(s).
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