Close this search box.

Travel Behavior Analysis with Chittenden County Survey Data

Project #: 4W8510
Start Date: 06/29/2020
End Date: 10/31/2020
Status: Completed

The findings are detailed in the final report.  Cluster analysis was used to segment travelers into three modal orientations — Alternative Oriented, Car Tolerant, and Car Oriented.  The findings suggest the modal orientations represent a spectrum of automobile reliance (in terms of behavior) and support for automobile accommodation (in terms of planning). The Alternative Oriented comprises 28% of the pooled 2000-2018 sample, while the Car Tolerant comprises 49% and the Car Oriented comprises 23%. Limited resources for concentrated marketing should focus on the Car Tolerant; this modal orientation group has a high willingness to change travel behavior with a change in travel conditions and reports strong support for incentives for alternatives but also perceives the car as the only option at a relatively high rate. The Car Tolerant could be encouraged to increase the intensity with which they use alternative modes and be introduced to supportive alternatives such as electric bicycles and carsharing.

Beyond the modal orientations, the results indicate strong public support for a shift away from automobile accommodation and toward support for alternatives. The Chittenden County public would like fewer resources devoted to highways than is currently being allocated, and support for gas tax increases is higher for non-highway purposes than for use exclusive to highways. While transportation planning and travel behavior in the U.S. have historically reinforced an orientation toward the automobile, it is also possible to harness this cycle in support of alternatives modes as well. The findings suggest there is likely to be more public support for truly balanced transportation systems than has typically been understood or expected.


The greater Burlington region of Chittenden County, Vermont is the only small urban area in the state.  The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission conducted  travel behavior surveys in 2000, 2006, 2012, and 2018. These surveys are unique in the degree to which they collect information about traveler attitudes and priorities for regional transportation investments, as well as the degree of consistency in their survey instruments, enabling a unique opportunity to analyze changes over time. The surveys each contain disaggregate (individual-level) data, and the 2006, 2012, and 2018 surveys each contain approximately 500 observations and were designed to be representative of the regional population.

This project is an opportunity to conduct the first original travel behavior research using the data from these surveys.  The research team will conduct a literature review and background research, including the generation of several maps of the study area that provide a visual representation of the spatial layout of travel facilities, key transit routes, and demographics such as density and poverty.  Using the data from the four surveys, researchers will conduct regression modeling to assess the relationship between the outcomes of interest and the factors that influence them. The survey designs are particularly well-suited to the factor identification and cluster analysis techniques that aid in traveler segmentation, used to better understand characteristics of the subgroups within the population. This project may inform transportation policy and planning in small urban areas, as well as efforts to more effectively target subgroups in the population most willing and able to reduce their car reliance.


The purpose of this document is to provide the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility with additional information and greater understanding of travel behavior in the greater Burlington region of Chittenden County, Vermont.