Shared school transportation: determinants of carpooling as children’s school travel mode in California

  • Rezwana Rafiq
  • Suman Kumar MitraEmail author


Carpooling has potential as an alternative mode of school transportation along with other viable options, especially at a time when technology continues to increase our reliance upon shared mobility. Unfortunately, our knowledge of carpooling as a school travel mode is very limited. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap. Using a multinomial logit model, this study presents an analysis of data from the 2012 California Household Travel Survey to assess the effects of various factors, such as trip characteristics, child characteristics, parental or caregiver’s characteristics, household characteristics, and spatial variables on choosing carpooling as a school travel mode. The findings of the study indicate that travel distance is one of the major determinants of carpooling, suggesting that children are more likely to carpool to school as travel distance from home to school increases. The analysis shows that a higher income two-parent two-earner family with a 5–15-year-old female schoolchild is more likely to use carpooling for school trips when compared to other modes of transportation. Parental/caregiver characteristics are also found to be important, as children from households with young, female, higher educated heads are more likely to carpool to school. Results of spatial variables suggest that families living in neighborhoods with higher numbers of schoolchildren are also more likely to carpool. The empirical evidence presented in this study provides useful insight to school districts, policymakers, and other transportation related entities in identifying potential target groups to whom this travel mode could be presented.


Children Carpooling School travel mode Shared school transportation CHTS 



The authors acknowledge the comments/feedback received from the three anonymous reviewers that helped them substantially improve the paper.

Authors’ contributions

RR: Literature Search and Review, Manuscript Writing; SKM: Data Cleaning and Analysis, Manuscript Writing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, K., Faulkner, G.E., Buliung, R.N., Lay, J., Stone, M.: The school run: exploring carpooling as an intervention option in the greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), Canada. Transp. Policy 21, 134–140 (2012)Google Scholar
  2. Blumenberg, E., Smart, M.: Getting by with a little help from my friends… and family: immigrants and carpooling. Transportation 37(3), 429–446 (2010)Google Scholar
  3. Brownstone, D., Golob, T.F.: The effectiveness of ridesharing incentives: discrete-choice models of commuting in Southern California. Reg. Sci. Urban Econ. 22(1), 5–24 (1992)Google Scholar
  4. Buliung, R., Soltys, K., Habel, C., Lanyon, R.: Driving factors behind successful carpool formation and use. Transp. Res. Rec. 2118, 31–38 (2009)Google Scholar
  5. Buliung, R.N., Soltys, K., Bui, R., Habel, C., Lanyon, R.: Catching a ride on the information super-highway: toward an understanding of internet-based carpool formation and use. Transportation 37(6), 849–873 (2010)Google Scholar
  6. Charles, K.K., Kline, P.: Relational costs and the production of social capital: evidence from carpooling. Econ. J. 116(511), 581–604 (2006)Google Scholar
  7. Concas, S., Winters, P.L.: Impact of carpooling on trip-chaining behavior and emission reductions. Transp. Res. Rec. 2010, 83–91 (2007)Google Scholar
  8. Correia, G., Viegas, J.M.: Carpooling and carpool clubs: clarifying concepts and assessing value enhancement possibilities through a Stated Preference web survey in Lisbon, Portugal. Transp. Res. A 45(2), 81–90 (2011)Google Scholar
  9. Curry, A.E., Mirman, J.H., Kallan, M.J., Winston, F.K., Durbin, D.R.: Peer passengers: how do they affect teen crashes? J. Adolesc. Health 50(6), 588–594 (2012)Google Scholar
  10. De Almeida Correia, G.H., de Abreu e Silva, J., Viegas, J.M.: Using latent attitudinal variables estimated through a structural equations model for understanding carpooling propensity. Transp. Plan. Technol. 36(6), 499–519 (2013)Google Scholar
  11. Delhomme, P., Gheorghiu, A.: Comparing French carpoolers and non-carpoolers: which factors contribute the most to carpooling? Transp. Res. D 42, 1–15 (2016)Google Scholar
  12. Ewing, R., Schroeer, W., Greene, W.: School location and student travel analysis of factors affecting mode choice. Transp. Res. Rec. 1895, 55–63 (2004)Google Scholar
  13. Ferguson, E.: Demographics of carpooling. Transp. Res. Rec. 1496, 142–150 (1995)Google Scholar
  14. Ferguson, E.: The rise and fall of the American carpool: 1970–1990. Transportation 24(4), 349–376 (1997)Google Scholar
  15. Hausman, J., McFadden, D.: Specification tests for the multinomial logit model. Econ. J. Econ. Soc. 52(5), 1219–1240 (1985)Google Scholar
  16. He, S.: Effect of school quality and residential environment on mode choice of school trips. Transp. Res. Rec. 2213, 96–104 (2011)Google Scholar
  17. Hsu, H.P., Saphores, J.D.M.: Impacts of parental gender and attitudes on children’s school travel mode and parental chauffeuring behavior: results for California based on the 2009 National Household Travel Survey. Transportation 41(3), 543–565 (2014)Google Scholar
  18. International Energy Agency: Saving Oil in a Hurry: Measures for Rapid Demand Restraint in Transport. International Energy Agency Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris (2005)Google Scholar
  19. Kelly, J.A., Fu, M.: Sustainable school commuting–understanding choices and identifying opportunities: a case study in Dublin, Ireland. J. Transp. Geogr. 34, 221–230 (2014)Google Scholar
  20. Klein, N.J., Smart, M.J.: Millennials and car ownership: Less money, fewer cars. Transp. Policy 53, 20–29 (2017)Google Scholar
  21. Li, J., Embry, P., Mattingly, S., Sadabadi, K., Rasmidatta, I., Burris, M.: Who chooses to carpool and why?: examination of Texas carpoolers. Transp. Res. Rec. 2021, 110–117 (2007)Google Scholar
  22. Males, M.: California’s graduated driver license law: effects on older teenagers. Calif. J. Health Promot. 4(3), 207–221 (2006)Google Scholar
  23. Malodia, S., Singla, H.: A study of carpooling behaviour using a stated preference web survey in selected cities of India. Transp. Plann. Technol. 39(5), 538–550 (2016)Google Scholar
  24. Martin, S., Carlson, S.: Barriers to children walking to or from school—United States, 2004. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly Rep. 54(38), 949–952 (2005)Google Scholar
  25. McDonald, N.C.: Children’s travel: patterns and influences. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley (2005)Google Scholar
  26. McDonald, N.C.: Active transportation to school: trends among US schoolchildren, 1969–2001. Am. J. Prev. Med. 32(6), 509–516 (2007)Google Scholar
  27. McDonald, N.C.: Children’s mode choice for the school trip: the role of distance and school location in walking to school. Transportation 35(1), 23–35 (2008a)Google Scholar
  28. McDonald, N.C.: Critical factors for active transportation to school among low-income and minority students: evidence from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey. Am. J. Prev. Med. 34(4), 341–344 (2008b)Google Scholar
  29. McDonald, N.C.: Household interactions and children’s school travel: the effect of parental work patterns on walking and biking to school. J. Transp. Geogr. 16(5), 324–331 (2008c)Google Scholar
  30. McDonald, N.C., Aalborg, A.E.: Why parents drive children to school: implications for safe routes to school programs. J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 75(3), 331–342 (2009)Google Scholar
  31. McDonald, N.C., Brown, A.L., Marchetti, L.M., Pedroso, M.S.: U.S. school travel, 2009: an assessment of trends. Am. J. Prev. Med. 41(2), 146–151 (2011)Google Scholar
  32. McDonald, N.C.: Are millennials really the “go-nowhere” generation? J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 81(2), 90–103 (2015)Google Scholar
  33. McGuckin, N.: Travel to School in California: Findings from the California National Household Travel Survey. Activating Living Research, Bikes Belong Foundation and The Safe Routes to School National Partnership. (2013). Accessed 12 Oct 2018
  34. McMillan, T.E.: The relative influence of urban form on a child’s travel mode to school. Transp. Res. A 41(1), 69–79 (2007)Google Scholar
  35. Minett, P., Pearce, J.: Estimating the energy consumption impact of casual carpooling. Energies 4(1), 126–139 (2011)Google Scholar
  36. Mitra, R., Buliung, R., Roorda, M.: Built environment and school travel mode choice in Toronto, Canada. Transp. Res. Rec. 2156, 150–159 (2010)Google Scholar
  37. Mitra, R., Buliung, R.N.: Built environment correlates of active school transportation: neighborhood and the modifiable areal unit problem. J. Transp. Geogr. 20(1), 51–61 (2012)Google Scholar
  38. Mitra, R., Buliung, R.N.: Exploring differences in school travel mode choice behaviour between children and youth. Transp. Policy 42, 4–11 (2015)Google Scholar
  39. Mitra, S.K., Saphores, J.D.M.: Carless in California: green choice or misery? J. Transp. Geogr. 65, 1–12 (2017)Google Scholar
  40. Napier, M.A., Brown, B.B., Werner, C.M., Gallimore, J.: Walking to school: community design and child and parent barriers. J. Environ. Psychol. 31(1), 45–51 (2011)Google Scholar
  41. Nelson, N.M., Foley, E., O’gorman, D.J., Moyna, N.M., Woods, C.B.: Active commuting to school: how far is too far? Int. J. Behav. Nutr. Phys. Act. 5(1), 1–9 (2008)Google Scholar
  42. Polzin, S.E., Chu, X., Godfrey, J.: The impact of millennials’ travel behavior on future personal vehicle travel. Energy Strategy Rev. 5, 59–65 (2014)Google Scholar
  43. Ralph, K.M.: Stalled On The Road To Adulthood? Analyzing the Nature of Recent Travel Changes for Young Adults in America, 1995 to 2009. University of California, Los Angel (2015)Google Scholar
  44. Staunton, C.E., Hubsmith, D., Kallins, W.: Promoting safe walking and biking to school: the Marin County success story. Am. J. Pub. Health 93(9), 1431–1434 (2003)Google Scholar
  45. Schlossberg, M., Greene, J., Phillips, P.P., Johnson, B., Parker, B.: School trips: effects of urban form and distance on travel mode. J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 72(3), 337–346 (2006)Google Scholar
  46. Shewmake, S.: Can carpooling clear the road and clean the air? Evidence from the literature on the impact of HOV lanes on VMT and air pollution. J. Plan. Lit. 27(4), 363–374 (2012)Google Scholar
  47. Soltys, K., Buliung, R.: Commuting connections: gender, carpooling and cyberspace. In: 43rd Canadian Transportation Research Forum Annual Meeting (2008)Google Scholar
  48. Stine, R.A.: Graphical interpretation of variance inflation factors. Am. Stat. 49(1), 53–56 (1995)Google Scholar
  49. Szell, M., Ratti, C., Santi, P.: Trip sharing in the era of self-driving cars. Working Paper (2015)Google Scholar
  50. Taylor, M.: Review of School Transportation in California. Legislative Analyst’s Office. (2014). Accessed 12 Oct 2018
  51. Teal, R.F.: Carpooling: who, how and why. Transp. Res. A 21(3), 203–214 (1987)Google Scholar
  52. Timperio, A., Ball, K., Salmon, J., Roberts, R., Giles-Corti, B., Simmons, D., Louise, A.B., Crawford, D.: Personal, family, social, and environmental correlates of active commuting to school. Am. J. Prev. Med. 30(1), 45–51 (2006)Google Scholar
  53. Tischer, M.L., Dobson, R.: An empirical analysis of behavioral intentions of single-occupant auto drivers to shift to high occupancy vehicles. Transp. Res. A 13(3), 143–158 (1979)Google Scholar
  54. Urban Institute Student Transportation Working Group: Student Transportation and Educational Access: How Students Get to School in Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. (2017). Accessed 16 Oct 2018
  55. Valentine, G.: “Oh Yes I Can” “Oh no you can’t”: children and parents’ understandings of kids’ competence to negotiate public space safely. Antipode 29(1), 65–89 (1997)Google Scholar
  56. Vanoutrive, T., Van De Vijver, E., Van Malderen, L., Jourquin, B., Thomas, I., Verhetsel, A., Witlox, F.: What determines carpooling to workplaces in Belgium: location, organisation, or promotion? J. Transp. Geogr. 22, 77–86 (2012)Google Scholar
  57. Waygood, E.O.D., Kitamura, R.: Children in a rail-based developed area of Japan: travel patterns, independence, and exercise. Transp. Res. Rec. 2125(1), 36–43 (2009)Google Scholar
  58. Williams, A.F., Laurie, A.N., William, A.: Leaf: responses of teenagers and their parents to California’s graduated licensing system. Acc. Anal. Prev. 34(6), 835–842 (2002)Google Scholar
  59. Williams, A.F.: Teenage drivers: patterns of risk. J. Saf. Res. 34(1), 5–15 (2003)Google Scholar
  60. Williams, A.F., Ferguson, S.A., McCartt, A.T.: Passenger effects on teenage driving and opportunities for reducing the risks of such travel. J. Saf. Res. 38(4), 381–390 (2007)Google Scholar
  61. Yarlagadda, A.K., Srinivasan, S.: Modeling children’s school travel mode and parental escort decisions. Transportation 35(2), 201–218 (2008)Google Scholar
  62. Yeung, J., Wearing, S., Hills, A.P.: Child transport practices and perceived barriers in active commuting to school. Transp. Res. A 42(6), 895–900 (2008)Google Scholar
  63. Yoon, S., Doudnikoff, M., Goulias, K.: Spatial analysis of propensity to escort children to school in southern California. Transp. Res. Rec. 2230, 132–142 (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
Corrected Publication August 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS)University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations