Expertise in the Interpretation and Forecasting of Travel

     Nancy McGuckin     
Travel Behavior Analyst


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Selected Excerpts and Summaries of Papers and Publications

Summary of Travel Trends—National Household Travel Survey  This comprehensive analysis of 40 years of travel behavior uses the national data series (1969 to 2009) to analyze trends in demographics, mode, commuting, and vehicle fleet composition and use.  In addition, trends in travel behavior of special populations, such as internet shopping by households with children, and travel by older and younger cohorts, and trends in gas costs per household are presented. 

Driving Miss Daisy: Women as Passengers This peer-reviewed paper forecasts the effect of the longevity revolution on the future mobility of the US population.  Currently, the majority of people live in suburban and rural areas where personal travel options besides private vehicles are few.  This study explores the travel behavior of older, non-drivers, forecasts the future non-driver population, and discusses policy implications of this potential crisis in older mobility. bio

The Carbon Footprint of Daily Travel 

This accessible, descriptive article explains the role of passenger travel in the total amount of carbon emissions from transportation in the U.S. The analysis examines trends in fuel efficiency and gas costs, and their effect on vehicle travel.  The article ends with some thoughts on future directions. Click here for the article. 

The Work Trip in the Context of Daily Travel This commissioned research examines the role of the work trip in modern life.  Recent data shows that travel to work may account for less than one out of five trips, and that over one-third of all households have no worker.  Transportation planners continue to rely on estimates of work travel as the basis of travel demand forecasting.  This paper discusses the role of the work trip, how it has changed over time, and whether it is still relevant to current travel behavior. 

Travel Demand in the Context of Growing Diversity A specially-commissioned article presents findings on the differences in travel behavior across different race and ethnic groups, including immigrants. The shifts in the US population that are increasing diversity, the adaptation of newer immigrants to typical American travel behavior, and the effect of increasing diversity on future travel is discussed. 

Peak Travel in America This peer reviewed paper untangles congestion by dividing travel during the peak morning and evening into mandatory, including direct trips to work and trips with intermediary stops;  maintenance, including dropping children at school or going to the doctor or dentist; and discretionary, such as stopping at the gym or for breakfast.  The amount and characteristics of each of these contributors to peak travel are presented for the morning and afternoon period and reflections on the future of congestion are discussed.  

The 'Starbucks Effect' -- Pursuit of a Grande Latte May Be Stirring Up Gridlock  

National coverage of this topical research concluded that “the national craving for gourmet coffee may be adding mileage to the morning rush hour. And the numbers might be significant enough to complicate efforts to reduce traffic congestion, save fuel and reduce air pollution." Click Here to see the Washington Post article that started it all.  


An Exploration of the Internet’s Effect on Travel  

It is clear that the Internet, like other paradigm-shifting technologies, is going to change travel behavior as it changes Americans lifestyles. The relationship between the Internet and travel is complex and a new paradigm is needed. In addition, important issues such as the impact of e-commerce on home delivery of goods, and the Internet as a possible explanation for shifts in time use, are not well understood. This independent research shows that we may be seeing trends in the amount of time spent at home for younger people, especially men. Data is compiled from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), the USPS Household Diary Study (HDS), the Current Population Survey (CPS), and American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Analysis conducted by Contrino, H. and McGuckin, N. Click here for article. 

Long Distance Travel  

Excerpt: “Overall, about 2.6 billion long-distance trips are taken by U.S. residents every year. These are trips of 50 miles or more away from home (100 miles in round-trip distance) for people of all ages, by all modes of travel, and for any purpose, Many people never travel that far from home--169 million people (61 percent of the population) do not make any long distance trips in an average year. In fact, just 5 percent of the population takes 25 percent of the long distance trips...." See NPTS Brief by McGuckin, N., March 2006.

Working Retirement—Travel Trends of the Aging Workforce excerpt: "In a few years, the first of the baby boom generation (the 76 million of Americans born between 1946 and 1964) will reach traditional retirement age. The generation that overflowed schools in their early years and generated a suburban housing boom in their middle years will possibly change the nature of travel and commuting as they shift into ‘working retirement’. Click here for complete research paper and look for a recent update on my home page. 

Demographics Matter: Travel Demand, Options, and Characteristics Among Minority Populations, Contrino, H. and McGuckin N. Public Works Managemenwalkerst Policy. 2009; Vol. 13: No. 4, 361-368 DOI: 10.1177/1087724X09336223 at: This article discusses the implications of the changing demographic patterns on transportation in the US, including travel behavior, public policy, aging, cultural patterns, safety, immigration, air quality and traffic volume, travel needs and infrastructure development. Click here for complete article. 

Is Congestion Slowing us Down? - "Congestion reduces mobility and increases auto-operating costs, adds to air pollution, and causes stress. Congestion is considered one of the major urban transportation problems. Americans are spending more time to travel about the same distance in an average day (all trips for all purposes). The average driver spends over an hour a day behind the wheel, 24 percent more time than in 1990 ...." Click here for the full NPTS Brief by McGuckin, N, February 2006. 

Poverty and Mobility in America - "The tragedy in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina showed how people in poverty are metaphorically and literally immobilized—stuck in place because of lack of resources. Although an emergency planner can tell you that there are always people who stay behind during an evacuation—because they "didn’t hear" the evacuation warning, or had weathered storms before and thought they could do it again, or even for the fact that most shelters don’t accept pets, in New Orleans the number of people who didn’t evacuate was multiplied dramatically by the city’s high number of people without cars. Over 125,000 people in the City of New Orleans lived in families where no one had access to a vehicle. Of course, many of those families were poor, and many poor families are poorest right before the first of the month when government assistance checks typically arrive (Katrina hit on the 29 of September). People in poverty, those without cars, the elderly who live alone, and people with language or transportation disabilities have special daily travel patterns and may have special mobility issues. Understanding the needs of the most vulnerable in our population goes to the heart of the ideal of mobility, and tests the heart of our nation. Equity in transportation and security binds the nation together, while inequity divides us...." research conducted by Liss, S., McGuckin, N, and Srinivasan, N., 2006. Click here for article. 

 See Projects for more papers and publications.