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‘Informal Travel’: A New Conceptualization of Travel Patterns?

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In transportation, informal transport refers mainly to the use of paratransit services in the developing world. In this paper we argue that informal travel may include, in addition to mode and users, also other travel pattern elements, such as trip planning, structure, purpose, and destination. Each of these can be placed along an axis ranging from formal manifestations to informal ones, thus creating a ‘formality scale’. Moreover, these elements may be combined in numerous ways, creating a multitude of travel patterns that may be placed all along the formality scale. After providing a definition of formal, semi-formal, and informal travel and characterizing travel patterns according to the formality scale we identify population groups which exemplify semi-formal and informal travel patterns. Next, we analyze the 2009 US National Household Travel Survey, which suggests informal travel may be growing. This leads to a discussion on various factors that might affect travel formality. Most notably, the growing use of information and communication technologies may be shifting travel toward the informal end of the axis. In turn, this might affect trip symmetry, which may result in further effects on the transportation system.
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Keywords: ICTs; informal travel; travel elements; travel formality; travel patterns

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography,; Federmann School of Public Policy and Government, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel

Publication date: September 3, 2014

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