Accessibility and well-being: Are multimodal travelers more satisfied with their lives?

Date: 12/31/16 - 5/1/17
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Nemeth and Carrie Makarewicz Student Researchers: Former MURP students Roxanne Borzo Bertrand and Cayla Cothron; former GES student Isaac Rivera.

In this study, we asked how the ability to use multiple transportation options affects one's subjective wellbeing (SWB), including aspects such as physical health, financial security, standard of living, and personal relationships. We draw on 232 surveys from a diverse set of residents in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area and find that having more transportation choices can improve standard of living for low- and middle-income residents. These multimodal middle-income residents are also more satisfied with their health and what they are achieving in life. Vehicle owners report higher levels of satisfaction with their standard of living, health, and achievements, compared to non-owners, unless auto is their only travel mode. Only low-income respondents had significant differences in standard of living by where they lived, with greatest satisfaction in the urban core. These results confirm the relationship between public transit and SWB, and contribute to our understanding of how the concept of motility (social and spatial mobility) shapes one's quality of life. The findings have implications for investments in transportation modes across neighborhood types and populations, so that people have a range of travel options to meet their needs and increase their satisfaction with their goals through improved daily travel. A clearer understanding of these associations can inform investments in multimodal infrastructure.

More Information: Read an article about the project