Telecommunication and Travel: The Case for Complementarity

  • Patricia L. Mokhtarian
Part of the Mobilitätsverhalten in der Freizeit book series (IFMO)


The potential of telecommunications to substitute for travel has long been appreciated. Indeed, such potential has often been not just a later realization but an integral impetus behind the development of the technology. Early communication devices such as jungle tom-tom drums, trumpet alarms, smoke signals and flashing lanterns were surely conceived precisely to replace the need for a physical messenger. The same cannot necessarily be said of the more recent (1876) invention of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell’s own initial vision of its uses seemed to be more along the lines of broadcast radio than personal communication, while the President of Western Union dismissed it as an “electrical toy”, and the Chief Engineer of the British Post Office in 1879 sniffed that the “superabundance of messengers, errand boys, and things of that kind” in Great Britain obviated the need for the telephone there (Dilts 1941). However, it did not take long for speculation to begin about the potential of the new technology to eliminate travel. Albertson (1980) refers to a letter to the editor of the Times published May 10, 1879 suggesting that the telephone could provide relief from travel for harried businessmen


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albertson, L. A. (1977): Telecommunications as a Travel Substitute: Some Psychological, Organizational, and Social Aspects. In: Journal of Communication. Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 32–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albertson, L. A. (1980): Trying to Eat an Elephant. In: Communications Research, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 387–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batten, D. F. (1989): The Future of Transport and Interface Communication: Debating the Scope for Substitution Growth. In: Batten, D. F. and Thord, R. (eds.): Transportation for the Future. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  4. Button, K. and Maggi, R. (1994): Videoconferencing and Its Implications for Transport: An Anglo-Swiss Perspective. In: Transport Reviews, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 59–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Claisse, G. (1983): Transport and Telecommunications. ECMT Round Table 59. European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), Paris.Google Scholar
  6. Couclelis, H. (1999): From Sustainable Transportation to Sustainable Accessibility: Can We Avoid a New “Tragedy of the Commons”? In: Janelle, D. and Hodge, D. (eds.): Information, Place, and Cyberspace: Issues in Accessibility. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  7. Day, L. H. (1973): An Assessment of Travel/Communications Substitutability. In: Futures Vol. 5, No. 6, pp. 559–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Sola Pool, I. (ed.) (1977): The Social Impact of the Telephone. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  9. Dilts, M. M. (1941): The Telephone in a Changing World. Longman’s Green, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Edmonson, B. (1998): In the Driver’s Seat. In: American Demographics, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 46–52.Google Scholar
  11. Forster, E. M. (1909): The Machine Stops. In: Forster, E. M. (1928): The Eternal Moment. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Gaspar, J. and Glaeser, E. L. (1998): Information Technology and the Future of Cities. In: Journal of Urban Economics, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 136–156.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gautschi, D. A. and Sabavala, D. J. (1995): The World That Changed the Machines: A Marketing Perspective on the Early Evolution of Automobiles and Telephony. In: Technology in Society, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 55–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giuliano, G. and Small, K. A. (1995): Alternative Strategies for Coping with Traffic Congestion. In: Giersch, H. (ed.): Urban Agglomeration and Economic Growth. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  15. Gordon, P., Kumar, A. and Richardson, H. W. (1990): Peak-Spreading: How Much? In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 165–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gordon, P., Richardson, H. W. and Jun, M-J. (1991): The Commuting Paradox: Evidence from the Top Twenty. In: APA Journal, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 416–420.Google Scholar
  17. Gottmann, J. (1983): Urban Settlements and Telecommunications. In: Ekistics, Vol. 50, pp. 411–416.Google Scholar
  18. Gould, J. and Golob, T. (1997): Shopping without Travel or Travel without Shopping? An Investigation of Electronic Home Shopping. In: Transport Reviews, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 355–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, S. and Marvin, S. (1996): Telecommunications and the City: Electronic Spaces, Urban Places. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Grubler, A. (1989): The Rise and Fall of Infrastructures: Dynamics of Evolution and Technological Change in Transport. Physica Verlag, Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  21. Hanks, Jr., J. W. and Lomax, T. J. (1991): Roadway Congestion in Major Urban Areas: 1982 to 1988. In: Transportation Research Record, No. 1305, pp. 177–189.Google Scholar
  22. Harlow, A. F. (1936): Old Wires and New Waves: The History of the Telegraph, Telephone, and Wireless. D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, A. S. and Taylor, M. E. (2000): Activity Settings and Travel Behaviour: A Social Contact Perspective. In: Transportation, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 53–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Helling, A. and Mokhtarian, P. L. (2001): Worker Telecommunication and Mobility in Transition: Consequences for Planning. In: Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 511–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hjorthol, R. J. (2002): The Relation between Daily Travel and Use of the Home Computer. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 36, No. 5, pp. 437–452.Google Scholar
  26. Hojer, M. and Mattsson, L-G. (2000): Determinism and Backcasting in Future Studies. In: Futures, Vol. 32, No. 7, pp. 613–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hu, P. S. and Young, J. (1999): Summary of Travel Trends: 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey. Report No. FHWA-PL-00-006, December. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  28. Johansson, A. (1999): Transport in an Era of Communication. Paper presented at the University of Stuttgart. SIKA Dokument 1999:1. Swedish Institute for Transport and Communications Analysis, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  29. KMPG Bureau for Economic Research and Documentation (1997): The Influence of the Information Society on Traffic and Transportation. Final report commissioned by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management of the Netherlands, Transport Research Centre (AVV), Strategic Studies Division (VMV), Rotterdam, the Netherlands, October. ISBN 903693603.Google Scholar
  30. Kumar, A. (1990): Impact of Technological Developments on Urban Form and Travel Behavior. In: Regional Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 137–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Levinson, D. M. and Kumar, A. (1994): The Rational Locator: Why Travel Times Have Remained Stable. In: Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 319–332.Google Scholar
  32. Lindley, J. A. (1987): Urban Freeway Congestion: Quantification of the Problem and Effectiveness of Potential Solutions. In: ITE Journal, January, pp. 27–32.Google Scholar
  33. Marchetti, C. (1994): Anthropological Invariants in Travel Behavior. In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mokhtarian, P. L. (1988): An Empirical Evaluation of the Travel Impacts of Teleconferencing. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 283–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mokhtarian, P. L. (1990): A Typology of Relationships between Telecommunications and Transportation. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mokhtarian, P. L. and Meenakshisundaram, R. (1999): Beyond Tele-Substitution: Disaggregate Longitudinal Structural Equations Modeling of Communication Impacts. In: Transportation Research C, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 33–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mokhtarian, P. L., Raney, E. A. and Salomon, I. (1997): Behavioral Responses to Congestion: Identifying Patterns and Socio-Economic Differences in Adoption. In: Transport Policy, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mokhtarian, P. L. and Salomon, I. (1997): Modeling the Desire to Telecommute: The Importance of Attitudinal Factors in Behavioral Models. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 35–50.Google Scholar
  39. Mokhtarian, P. L. and Salomon, I. (2001): How Derived Is the Demand for Travel? Some Conceptual and Measurement Considerations. In: Transportation Research A. Vol. 35, No. 8, pp. 695–719.Google Scholar
  40. Mokhtarian, P. L. and Salomon, I. (2002): Emerging Travel Patterns: Do Telecommunications Make a Difference? In: Mahmassani, H. S. (ed.): In Perpetual Motion: Travel Behaviour Research Opportunities and Application Challenges. Pergamon Press/Elsevier, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  41. Naisbitt, J., Naisbitt, N. and Philips, D. (1999): High Tech, High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning. Broadway Books, New York.Google Scholar
  42. Niles, J. (1994): Beyond Telecommuting: A New Paradigm for the Effect of Telecommunications on Travel. Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, Offices of Energy Research and Scientific Computing, Washington, DC 20585. Report No. DOE/ER-0626, September. Available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and at <>.Google Scholar
  43. Pierce, J. R. (1977): The Telephone and Society in the Past 100 Years. In: de Sola Pool, I (ed.): The Social Impact of the Telephone. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  44. Pisarski, A. E. (1992): Travel Behavior Issues in the 90’s. Paper prepared for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management. Publication No. FHWAPL-93-012, July.Google Scholar
  45. Plaut, P. O. (1997): Transportation-Communication Relationships in Industry. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 419–429.Google Scholar
  46. Redmond, L. S. and Mokhtarian, P. L. (2001): The Positive Utility of the Commute: Modeling Ideal Commute Time and Relative Desired Commute Amount. In: Transportation, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 179–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Richter, J. (1990): Crossing Boundaries between Professional and Private Life. In: Grossman, H. and Chester, L. (eds.): The Experience and Meaning of Work in Women’s Lives. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  48. Salomon, I. (1985): Telecommunications and Travel: Substitution or Modified Mobility? In: Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 219–235.Google Scholar
  49. Salomon, I. (1986): Telecommunications and Travel Relationships: A Review. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 223–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Salomon, I. and Koppelman, F. S. (1988): A Framework for Studying Teleshopping versus Store Shopping. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 247–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Salomon, I. and Mokhtarian, P. L. (1997): Coping with Congestion: Understanding the Gap between Policy Assumptions and Behavior. In: Transportation Research D, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 107–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Salomon, I. and Salomon, M. (1984): Telecommuting: The Employee’s Perspective. In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Salomon, I., Bovy, P. and Orfeuil, J-P. (eds.) (1993): A Billion Trips a Day: Tradition and Transition in European Travel Patterns. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  54. Schafer, A. and Victor, D. G. (2000): The Future Mobility of the World Population. In: Transportation Research A, Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 171–205.Google Scholar
  55. Selvanathan, E. A. and Selvanathan, S. (1994): The Demand for Transport and Communication in the United Kingdom and Australia. In: Transportation Research B, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shamir, B. (1991): Home: The Perfect Workplace? In: Zedeck, S. (ed.): Work and Family. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  57. Tauber, E. (1972): Why Do People Shop? In: Journal of Marketing, Vol. 36, October, pp. 46–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Townsend, A. (2000): Life in the Real-Time City: Mobile Telephones and Urban Metabolism. In: Journal of Urban Technology, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 85–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Price Indexes. Washington, DC. Available at <>.
  60. United States Department of Energy (2001): Annual Energy Review 2001. Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC. Available at <>.Google Scholar
  61. United States Department of Transportation (1993): Transportation Implications of Telecommuting. US DOT, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  62. Utts, J. M. (1999): Seeing through Statistics. (2nd ed.). Duxbury Press, Pacific Grove, CA.Google Scholar
  63. Webber, M. M. (1991): The Joys of Automobility. In: Wachs, M. and Crawford, M. (eds.): The Car and the City. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  64. Wells, H. G. (1899): When the Sleeper Wakes. In: Wells, H. G. (1954): The Sleeper Awakes. Collins, London.Google Scholar
  65. Yim, Y. (2000): Telecommunications and Travel Behavior: Would Cellular Communications Generate More Trips? Paper presented at the Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting, Washington, DC. Paper No. 00-0625.Google Scholar
  66. Zumkeller, D. (1996): Communication as an Element of the Overall Transport Context — An Empirical Study. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Survey Methods in Transport, pp. 66–68.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia L. Mokhtarian
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaDavis

Personalised recommendations