Travel Adaptive Capacity Assessment Simulation (TACA Sim)
Thesis DisciplineMechanical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
More than 95% of fuel used for personal transportation is petroleum-based (Environment and Development Division (EDD), 2005). The peak and decline of world oil production is producing price and uncertainty pressures that may cause significant travel behaviour change in the future. Current travel behaviour has developed during conditions of low cost fuel and government investment in private vehicle mobility. Current urban forms and land use have also been developed during a period of growth in vehicle travel demand. Research that explores the long term (permanent oil supply reduction period) implications of reduced fuel demand on private travel behaviour is needed. Local and national government investments in transport infrastructure and urban development will be used and require maintenance for decades. Research is needed to assess long-term mode choice and car travel demand as a function of urban form and demographic indicators. This type of travel behaviour adaptive potential should be relevant to transport planning decision making.
Literature review shows that there are a few available long-term planning methods, models, or tools in transportation engineering for future oil depletion. Transportation engineers need information of how current travel demand patterns may change over the lifetime of infrastructure investments in response to oil supply depletion. Behaviour change data for long term future situations would be difficult to obtain using traditional survey methods because most people have never experienced oil depletion situations. This research proposes that immersing people into the situation of oil depletion through sharp price rise would be necessary to generate relevant behaviour change decisions. The thesis is that the long term behaviour change can be assessed by characterising current adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is defined in this thesis as the travel demand pattern with maximum fuel reduction without reducing participation in activities. The reasons why people might change travel demand to reduce fuel use is not part of the definition.
This research also proposed that an immersive sim game environment could be used to prompt behaviour change decisions relating to fuel price shocks. Research into sim game surveys and travel behaviour surveys was used to inform the design of a Transport Adaptive Capacity Assessment (TACA) Sim survey tool. The TACA Sim survey was designed to assess capacity to adapt travel behaviour to reduce fuel use, and to characterise the potential for mode change. Participants experience the TACA Sim survey as a self assessment or transport energy audit. The survey provides a personal feel, focuses on the usual weekly activities, and provides feedback to participants about their fuel use and car dependence. Participants supply their normal travel activities over a week, and three weeks of sim play includes a steep fuel price rise while people are allowed to change their travel behaviour in response. The TACA Sim survey was evaluated through a case study of surveys of staff and students at the University of Canterbury.
A second version of the TACA survey was developed that surveyed the one week of normal travel, but then probed adaptive capacity by asking a simple question after each travel activity was entered “Could you get to the activity another way?” The sim game travel adaptive capacity is compared with the available alternative adaptive behaviour for participants in a case study at the University of Canterbury.
The results of the case study show that the participants responded well with the simulated situation. This reflects that the TACA Sim is successful in helping participants to perceive the situation of fuel price rise and think about their alternatives to car travel. Asking people “Could you get to the activity another way?” was found to effectively probe their adaptive capacity which agreed well with the virtual reality survey. The virtual reality survey yields more details of what people can do such as moving house, chaining trips, combining trips and buying a more efficient vehicle. The web-based TACA survey has been developed and deployed in two further research projects.