, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 385–414 | Cite as

Metropolitan size and the impacts of telecommuting on personal travel

  • Pengyu Zhu
  • Liping Wang
  • Yanpeng Jiang
  • Jiangping Zhou


Telecommuting has been proposed by policy makers as a strategy to reduce travel and emissions. In studying the metropolitan size impact of telecommuting on personal travel, this paper addresses two questions: (1) whether telecommuting is consistently a substitute or complement to travel across different MSA sizes; and (2) whether the impact of telecommuting is higher in larger MSAs where telecommuting programs and policies have been more widely adopted. Data from the 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Surveys are used. Through a series of tests that address two possible empirical biases, we find that telecommuting consistently had a complementary effect on one-way commute trips, daily total work trips and daily total non-work trips across different MSA sizes in both 2001 and 2009. The findings suggest that policies that promote telecommuting may indeed increase, rather than decrease, people’s travel demand, regardless of the size of the MSA. This seems to contradict what telecommuting policies are designed for. In addition, model results show that the complementary impact of telecommuting on daily travel is lower in larger MSAs, in terms of both daily total work trips and daily total non-work trips.


Telecommuting Personal travel Complement Substitute Commute Non-work trips 



The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Project Numbers: 71573232].


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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