, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 601–612 | Cite as

A case for measuring individuals’ access to private-vehicle travel as a matter of degrees: lessons from focus groups with Mexican immigrants in California

  • Kristin LovejoyEmail author
  • Susan Handy


In auto-oriented communities, access to an automobile is essential for good mobility, but not everyone owns a car or is able to drive. Little is known about how individuals in these circumstances might still use vehicles for transportation. To provide insight on the nature of vehicle use by those with potentially limited vehicle access, we present qualitative findings from focus groups with recent Mexican immigrants living in California, half of whom owned no cars. Our results demonstrate varying degrees of participants’ access to vehicle travel not always corresponding to auto ownership, with extensive sharing of cars, borrowing of cars, and getting rides. We describe the different dimensions of vehicle access that participants experienced and identify specific factors that seemed to influence their access levels. We discuss the implications of our findings for transportation policy and future research.


Auto-ownership Vehicle access Immigrant Rideshare Carpool 



The focus groups with Mexican immigrants in California were conducted as a part of a project funded by the California Department of Transportation through the PATH program at the University of California at Berkeley. TMDgroup, Inc. of Sacramento conducted the recruitment and facilitated the focus group sessions. Thanks to Evelyn Blumenberg, Caroline Rodier, Susan Shaheen, Norman Dong, and Frank Taylor for their input on the design of the focus groups. Helpful suggestions from anonymous reviewers improved this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Transportation StudiesUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

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