Cross- and Reverse Commuting: Are Mobility Patterns Changing in the Suburban Areas of Central and Eastern Europe?
I Keseru, KTI Institute for Transport Sciences, HU
The main objective of this research project is to find evidence of changing commuting patterns in the Budapest Agglomeration by assessing the intensity and characteristics of traditional, cross- and reverse-commuting.
Since 1990 the metropolitan areas of Central and Eastern Europe have undergone significant spatial and demographic changes. Unprecedented suburbanisation has restructured commuting patterns with considerable effects on modal choice, travel times and road congestion.
The growing demand in traditional commuting directions, a consequence of residential suburbanisation is apparent. It is reflected in increased road congestion on roads into the city, higher demand for high-quality rail-bound commuter links and increased awareness of environmental problems along major radial roads. Since the urbanisation process of the Central and Eastern European urban areas has followed the pattern of Western-European cities, it is expected that emerging suburbanisation of jobs is going to change traditional commuting patterns. Reverse commuting (commuting from the core city to its suburbs) and cross-commuting (commuting between suburbs) are the two most important consequences of this process.
While there is a wide range of literature available on commuting dynamics affected by changes in residential and job locations in the urban areas of the USA and Western-Europe (mainly France, the Netherlands and Germany), little evidence of similar processes exists in Central and Eastern Europe.
The main objective of this research project is to find evidence of changing commuting patterns in urban areas by assessing the intensity of traditional, cross- and reverse-commuting. A comparative analysis of commuting patterns as regards mode choice, population characteristics and journey length is also carried out. Since in most cases urban public transport networks are based on radial, suburb-to-city lines, it is expected that cross-commuters are more likely to use their cars. This hypothesis is also tested in the course of the research.
The target area of the research is the Budapest Agglomeration, a concentration of 81 settlements with 2.5 million inhabitants, one-quarter of the population of Hungary. With new office, commercial and complex (leisure-residential-office) developments appearing in the suburban area of the city, there is growing concern of the mobility impacts of these developments, while their effect on commuting patterns and the transport network has not been clarified.
The empirical analysis is based on commuter data from the National Census (2001) and the Microcensus from 2005, while more detailed data on modal choice, passenger characteristics etc. is available from the Travel Survey in the Budapest Agglomeration (2004) and the National Passenger Survey (2007).
In this paper, first, the intensity of reverse- and cross-commuting is examined by comparing commuting data from 2001, 2004 and 2007. Secondly, the characteristics of traditional, reverse- and cross-commuting journeys are compared (mode choice, passenger types [demographics, car ownership, etc.]), journey length and distance. And finally, the regional differences of the above characteristics are analysed. A comparison to trends in the USA and Western-European cities is also made.
Using this first stage of the research as a starting point, in the later stages, possible future scenarios will be created based on current trends and experience from Western-Europe and the USA. The current state of policies related to transport and spatial development affecting commuting will also be assessed and recommendations will be given for an integrated approach to sustainable transport and spatial planning to minimize the negative impacts of changing commuting patterns.
Association for European Transport