The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 767–789 | Cite as

Is it time to use activity-based urban transport models? A discussion of planning needs and modelling possibilities

  • Staffan Algers
  • Jonas Eliasson
  • Lars-Göran Mattsson
Original Paper


For some decades now, transport researchers have put considerable efforts into developing what is called activity-based approaches for modelling urban travel demand. The basic idea is that travel demand is derived from people’s desires to take part in different activities. In particular, the interrelationships among different activities with respect to temporal and spatial constraints are in focus. It means that such models treat the activities and the travelling of the households with respect to where and when the activities can be carried out and how they may be scheduled, given characteristics of the households and potential opportunities, the transport networks and various institutional constraints. We discuss what demands we see on future travel demand models, with a focus on urban analysis. This discussion is somewhat biased towards what role activity-based models could play in meeting these demands. We then review in some detail three prominent and distinctly different representatives of operational activity-based models to give an indication of what new modelling possibilities they offer. Theoretical appeal, empirical validity, usefulness for planning, need for data and easiness of implementation are discussed. In the final section we draw some conclusions about the prospects of these models and of their descendants.


C35 R20 R41 R48 



The authors are grateful for helpful comments from four anonymous referees, as well as from Tommy Gärling, Stig Holmstedt, Jan Owen Jansson, Jan Söderström and Staffan Widlert. This research was given financial support from VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Staffan Algers
    • 1
  • Jonas Eliasson
    • 2
  • Lars-Göran Mattsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Transport and Location Analysis, Department of Transport and EconomicsRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Transek ABSolnaSweden

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