Representing heterogeneity in structural relationships among multiple choice variables using a latent segmentation approach.

Abstract Travel model systems often adopt a single decision structure that links several activity-travel choices together. The single decision structure is then used to predict activity-travel choices, with those downstream in the decision-making chain infuenced by those upstream in the sequence. The adoption of a singular sequential causal structure to depict relationships among activity-travel choices in travel demand model systems ignores the possibility that some choices are made jointly as a bundle as well as the possible presence of structural heterogeneity in the population with respect to decision-making processes. As diferent segments in the population may adopt and follow diferent causal decision-making mechanisms when making selected choices jointly, it would be of value to develop simultaneous equations model systems relating multiple endogenous choice variables that are able to identify population subgroups following alternative causal decision structures. Because the segments are not known a priori, they are considered latent and determined endogenously within a joint modeling framework proposed in this paper. The methodology is applied to a national mobility survey data set to identify population segments that follow diferent causal structures relating residential location choice, vehicle ownership, and carshare and mobility service usage. It is found that the model revealing three distinct latent segments best describes the data, confrming the efcacy of the modeling approach and the existence of structural heterogeneity in decision-making in the population. Future versions of activity-travel model systems should strive to incorporate such structural heterogeneity to better refect varying decision processes across population subgroups.