Accessibility to Jobs Outside Employment Sub-Centers Has a Larger Impact on VMT Reduction than Accessibility to Jobs Inside Employment Sub-Centers

To achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals established by California Assembly Bill 32 and California Senate Bill 375 will require policy approaches that address the link between land use and vehicle travel. The extensive literature on land use and travel behavior has documented the association between employment access and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as having one of the largest magnitudes among land use variables. Yet the employment access variables in the research literature have not differentiated between whether drivers have access to jobs dispersed throughout a region or jobs that are clustered in an employment sub-center. Clustering jobs in employment sub-centers can alter the economic geography of a region in ways that could affect trip generation and trip chaining.

California metropolitan areas have highly sub-centered employment patterns. Unfortunately, California’s policy makers currently have to use a literature that does not distinguish how access to employment sub-centers might influence VMT differently from access to jobs that are not in sub-centers. This is a policy shortcoming given California’s highly polycentric metropolitan structure.

This policy brief summarizes findings from a study to help close the gap by examining how access to jobs in employment sub-centers influences household VMT, using the five-county Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area as an example.