Long-Distance Travel and Social Network Geography

The thesis project will advance basic knowledge of the long-distance and intercity travel behavior in order to inform more sustainable transportation planning. Long-distance travel currently accounts for few trips but many miles, including air miles in the overall system. Some estimates are as high as 30% of the miles and thus energy used in the transportation system are for intercity trips. While thought leaders have proposed that social network geography is expanding and that this relates to longer trips and travel, very limited data have been collected. Few social network researchers incorporate physical location of contacts into their work opting instead for measurement of emotional closeness and face-to-face contact frequency. Long distance travel is difficult to measure and improvements to survey methods will be pursued in this project. The overall objective of this project is to increase our understanding of the relationship between social network geography and long-distance travel. “Big Data” may be used to assess annual activity spaces. On-line survey instruments may be used to collect data on social network geography and levels of travel. The survey effort builds on a pilot effort implemented in a prior NCST project.


Research Area