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Assessing the accuracy of the Sydney Household Travel Survey with GPS

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Over the past few years, GPS has been used in a number of surveys in the US to assess the accuracy of household travel surveys. The results have been somewhat alarming in that most of these exercises have shown that the standard trip-based CATI survey conducted in the US under-reports travel by about 20–25%. It was decided to use GPS to assess the accuracy of the Sydney Household Travel Survey, a continuous survey conducted by face-to-face interviewing. The procedure used was for the interviewers to recruit households for the household travel survey in the normal manner, and then, if the household met certain criteria, to endeavour to recruit the household to also undertake a GPS survey. A small sample of about 50 households was obtained, and GPS devices successfully retrieved that measured data on the same day as the travel diary was completed. In addition, participants in the GPS survey completed a prompted recall survey a week or two later, using maps and tabulations of travel obtained from the GPS devices, to identify mode, purpose and occupancy for trips measured by the GPS, and also to check for accuracy in defining trip ends and total number of trips. Based on the analysis of the GPS compared to the diary results, it was found that respondents under-reported their travel by about 7%, which is much less than in the US CATI results. Respondents were also found to under-report travel distances and over-report travel times. There was also a high incidence of non-reporting for VKT.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority for this research and the assistance of the Transport and Population Data Centre for the use of both their interviewers and data in undertaking this research. Any errors in this paper, however, are solely those of the authors.

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Correspondence to Peter Stopher.

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Both Camden FitzGerald and Min Xu were at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the time this work was undertaken.

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Stopher, P., FitzGerald, C. & Xu, M. Assessing the accuracy of the Sydney Household Travel Survey with GPS. Transportation 34, 723–741 (2007).

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