Excess commuting: Towards estimating the cost of restricting "wasteful" travel

All authors:
Del Mistro, R.
Host organisation: CoE Cape Town, South Africa
Publication year: 2010
Published in:
Research theme: Environment and Climate Change, Policy and Planning
peak oil, excess commuting
Transportation is major contributor to green house gas emissions. It is also a major consumer of energy, especially fossil fuels. Conferences such as those in Kyoto (1997/2005) and Copenhagen (2009) are aimed at multi-national pledges to reduce emissions. But underlying the proclamations, resolutions and negotiations, there appears to be an unwillingness of countries to implement potentially unpopular policies requiring their citizens to significantly change their commuting lifestyles. This is evidenced by major initiatives such as those to reduce vehicle weight, improve engine efficiency and develop alternative fuels to power motor cars. Countries seem to avoid asking why we are commuting so far using motorised transport, what would it cost if we did not / could not commute so much, and finally what interventions should they implement to reduce excess motorised commuting. There is a significant body of literature that has shown that excess commuting can be as much as 70% of current commuting. While the minimum value of commuting is a function of development density and the location of land uses to satisfy trip purposes; the value of excess commuting can only be reduced if the “friction” of distance is increased. Such an intervention will result in a reduction in the number of locations at which trip purposes can be satisfied. A reduction in choice will carry a “cost”. The topic of the “cost” of restricting the number of locations that can be reasonably chosen as trip ends is not clearly articulated in the literature. The paper is aimed at beginning a discussion on how to estimate these “costs”. The paper introduces the topic with summaries of the literature on the peak oil debate and excess commuting.
October 2020
Upcoming Events
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
v40        1 2 3 4
v41  5 6 7 8 9 10 11
v42  12 13 14 15 16 17 18
v43  19 20 21 22 23 24 25
v44  26 27 28 29 30 31  


The VREF invites Sub-Saharan based researchers with expertise on sustainable and equitable
mobility and access or related areas, and strong interest in carrying out interdisciplinary research. Open for application until 2020-09-29


The VREF invites PhD students and advanced master students from Sub-Saharan African (SSA) universities to apply for a Mobility Grant (MG) to support a visit to another SSA university with up to SEK 25 000.


The VREF invites PhD students and researchers in early stages of their career to apply for a Study Visit Grant to be supported with up to SEK 30 000.

Each year the Håkan Frisinger Foundation for Transportation Research awards a scholarship to a prominent researcher.


Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarships for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency targets supporting the momentum of Lee Schipper’s contribution to the international policy dialogue in these fields.

This yearly award is aimed at supporting young individual researchers and students in is pursuance.

Call extended to April 30, 2020 due to COVID19.


Blog! Blog! Blog!

Global Mobility Research

This Meeting of the Minds' blog monthly releases interviews of global transportation researchers from the VREF's Future Urban Transport Program Network.


This CityFix series, produced by the WRI (World Ressources Institute) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and supported by the VREF, discusses walking and cycling in cities with a special focus on low- and middle-income countries.

About VREF

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) inspires, initiates and supports research and educational activities through the Future Urban Transport Programme - How to deal with the complexity of urban transport (FUT). 

Our Vision: Sustainable transport for equitable access in urban areas

Read more

© Copyright VREF