Household car ownership decisions

Project details

Full project title: Household car ownership decisions - understanding a transition point in travel behaviour

Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Ito World Ltd

Research student: Ben Clark

Supervisory team: Professor Glenn Lyons, Dr Kiron Chatterjee and Peter Miller (Ito World Ltd)

Start date: October 2007

Finish date: March 2011

Research briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document

Project summary

The number of cars required by a population and how they are used are two key pieces of information that transport planners and policy makers need in order to understand how to improve conditions on the transport network, along streets and in public spaces. Planners must estimate how the number of cars in an area will alter in response to changing social and economic conditions and new land use developments.

Over the years, researchers have developed many different kinds of mathematical models to help planners predict how car ownership levels may change. This study is seeking to build on the mathematical approaches to understanding changing car ownership by exploring people's views about and experiences of making car ownership decisions.

An important starting point for the study is that households build up to a decision to acquire or relinquish, keep or replace a car over time, partly in order to adapt to wider events (child birth, moving house or taking on a new job for instance) and associated changes in circumstances. Car ownership changes are rarely the result of an impulsive snap judgment. With this in mind, the study will explore what has happened in the past to explain present day household car ownership levels and probe what households think might happen to their car ownership level in the future.

The study will also examine how household car ownership needs and desires are related to residential location. This is of relevance to understanding the potential demand for geographically targeted transport initiatives such as car clubs or local public transport schemes and how they may be successfully located and marketed.

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