Heterogeneous links between urban form and mobility: A comparison of São Paulo, Istanbul and Mumbai

Jens Kandt


This paper presents determinants of travel demand in three important cities in emerging economies: São Paulo, Istanbul and Mumbai. By comparison, similarities and differences of travel demand among the cities are identified and discussed with regard to their geographical, institutional and spatio-physical conditions. Special attention is paid to the hitherto understudied impact of the built environment on travel in emerging economy cities. Drawing on identical household surveys carried out in each city, the study reveals that gender, social status, car ownership and geographical location are consistently associated with mode choice. Yet, the relative importance of those characteristics differs in each city in line with their distinct socio-cultural realities. Trip duration appears to be more affected by built-environment characteristics, once mode choice is taken into account. But, again, potential influences of the built environment operate in different ways in São Paulo, Istanbul and Mumbai. In particular, there appears to be a closer relationship between transport and land-use in Mumbai. The variation-finding, comparative design reveals plural associations of life situation, the built environment and travel, and thus evinces specific interactions that require contextual policy attention to achieve sustainable and inclusive urban mobility.


built environment; emerging economies; social exclusion; travel demand; urbanisation

Full Text:



Adeel, M., Yeh, A. G. O., & Zhang, F. (2016). Transportation disadvantage and activity participation in the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan. Transport Policy, 47, 1–12. doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2015.12.001

Ahmad, S., & Puppim de Oliveira, J. A. (2016). Determinants of urban mobility in India: Lessons for promoting sustainable and inclusive urban transportation in developing countries. Transport Policy, 2030, 1–9. doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2016.04.014

Ahmed, Q. I., Lu, H., & Ye, S. (2008). Urban transportation and equity: A case study of Beijing and Karachi. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 42(1), 125–139. doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2007.06.004

Azen, R., & Budescu, D. V. (2003). The dominance analysis approach for comparing predictors in multiple regression. Psychological Methods, 8(2), 129–148. doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.8.2.129

Ben-Akiva, M., & Lerman, S. R. (1985). Discrete choice analysis: Theory and Application to travel demand. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bharadwaj, S., Ballare, S., Rohit, M. K., & Chandel. M. K. (2017). Impact of congestion on greenhouse gas emissions for road transport in Mumbai metropolitan region. Transportation Research Procedia, 25, 3538–3551. doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2017.05.282

Boisjoly, G., Moreno-Monroy, A. I., & El-Geneidy, A. (2017). Informality and accessibility to jobs by public transit: Evidence from the São Paulo Metropolitan Region. Journal of Transport Geography, 64, 89–96. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2017.08.005

Cervero, R. (2013). Linking urban transport and land use in developing countries. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 6, 7–24. doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.v1.425

Cervero, R., & Kockelman, K. (1997). Travel demand and the 3Ds: Density, diversity, and design. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 2(3), 199–219. doi.org/10.1016/S1361-9209(97)00009-6

Croissant. (2013). mlogit: multinomial logit model. R package version 0.2-4. Retrieved from http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=mlogit

Daily Sabah. (2014). Study: Istanbul’s heavy traffic congestion damaging to economy. Daily Sabah. Retrieved from https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/2014/12/09/study-istanbuls-heavy-traffic-congestion-hurtful-for-economy

de Vasconcellos, E. A. (2005). Urban change, mobility and transport in São Paulo: Three decades, three cities. Transport Policy, 12(2), 91–104. doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2004.12.001

Domencich, T. A., & McFadden, D. (1975). Urban travel demand. A behavioral analysis. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company.

Ewing, R. & Cervero, R. (2010). Travel and the built environment. Journal of the American Planning Association, 76(3), 265–294. doi.org/10.1080/01944361003766766

Feng, J., Dijst, M., Prillwitz, J., & Wissink, B. (2013). Travel time and distance in international perspective: A comparison between Nanjing (China) and the Randstad (The Netherlands). Urban Studies, 50(14), 2993–3010. doi.org/10.1177/0042098013482504

Gakenheimer, R. (2011). Land use and transport in rapidly motorizing cities: Contexts of controversy. In H. T. Dimitriou & R. Gakenheimer (Eds.), Urban transport in the developing world: A handbook of policy and practice (pp. 40–68). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gakenheimer, R. (1999). Urban mobility in the developing world. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 33(7–8), 671–689. doi.org/10.1016/S0965-8564(99)00005-1

Gerçek, H. (2009). Is there a road ahead? In R. Burdett (Ed.), Istanbul: City of intersections (p. 47). London: Urban Age Program, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Grömping, U. (2006). Relative importance for linear regression in R: The package relaimpo. Journal of Statistical Software, 17(1), 1–27. doi.org/10.18637/jss.v017.i01

Guerra, E. (2015). The geography of car ownership in Mexico City: A joint model of households’ residential location and car ownership decisions. Journal of Transport Geography, 43, 171–180. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2015.01.014

Huang, X., Cao, X., & Cao, J. (2016). The association between transit access and auto ownership: Evidence from Guangzhou, China. Transportation Planning and Technology, 39(3), 269–283. doi.org/10.1080/03081060.2016.1142223

IDA. (2014). 2014 – 2023 Istanbul regional plan. (Istanbul Development Agency). Retrieved from http://www.istka.org.tr/media/24723/istanbul-regional-plan-2014-2023.pdf

IMM. (2016). Istanbul transport annual report 2016. (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality). Retrieved from https://tuhim.ibb.gov.tr/media/2131/imm_transport_report.pdf

Kezič, M. E. L., & Durango-Cohen, P. L. (2012). The transportation systems of Buenos Aires, Chicago and Sao Paulo: City centers, infrastructure and policy analysis. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 46(1),102–122. doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2011.09.007

Kenworthy, G. R. (2017). Is automobile dependence in emerging cities an irresistible force? Perspectives from São Paulo, Taipei, Prague, Mumbai, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Sustainability, 9(11), 1953-1983. doi.org/10.3390/su9111953

Kutzbach, M. J. (2009). Motorization in developing countries: Causes, consequences, and effectiveness of policy options. Journal of Urban Economics, 65(2), 154–166. doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2008.10.002

Larrañaga, A. M., Rizzi, L. I., Arellana, J., Strambi, O., & Cybis, H. B. B. (2016). The influence of built environment and travel attitudes on walking: A case study of Porto Alegre, Brazil. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 10(4), 332–342. doi.org/10.1080/15568318.2014.933986

Lin, J. J., & Yang, A. T. (2009). Structural analysis of how urban form impacts travel demand: Evidence from Taipei. Urban Studies, 46(9), 1951–1967. doi.org/10.1177/0042098009106017

Lindeman, R., Merenda, P. F., & Gold, R. Z. (1980). Introduction to bivariate and multivariate analysis. Glenview, US: Scott, Foresman.

Lucas, K., & Porter, G. (2016). Mobilities and livelihoods in urban development contexts: Introduction. Journal of Transport Geography, 55, 129–131. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2016.07.007

Lucinda, C., Ledo, B., & Meyer, L. (2013). Congestion charge in São Paulo city: Likely traffic effects. (Working paper 74). Washington, DC: Global Development Network GDN.

Luchman, J. N. (2014). Relative importance analysis with multicategory dependent variables: An extension and review of best practices. Organizational Research Methods, 17(4), 452–471. doi.org/10.1177/1094428114544509

Ma, J., Mitchell, G., & Heppenstall, A. (2014). Daily travel behavior in Beijing, China: An analysis of workers’ trip chains, and the role of socio-demographics and urban form. Habitat International, 43, 263–273. doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2014.04.008

Mahadevia, D., & Advani, D. (2016). Gender differentials in travel pattern — the case of a mid-sized city, Rajkot, India. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 44, 292–302. doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2016.01.002

Manoj, M., & Verma, A. (2016). Effect of built environment measures on trip distance and mode choice decision of non-workers from a city of a developing country, India. Transportation Research Part D, 46, 351–364. doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2016.04.013

Manoj, M., & Verma, A. (2015). Activity-travel behavior of non-workers belonging to different income group households in Bangalore, India. Journal of Transport Geography, 49, 99–109. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2015.10.017

Manoj, M., Verma, A., & Navyatha, M. (2015). Commute travel and its effect on housing tenure choice of males and females living in the urban and rural areas of Bangalore city in India. Journal of Transport Geography, 45, 62–69. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2015.05.001

MCGM. (2016). Comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) for Greater Mumbai. (Municipal Corporate of Greater Mumbai). Retrieved from http://portal.mcgm.gov.in

MMRDA. (2016). Draft Mumbai metropolitan regional plan 2016–2036. (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority). Retrieved from https://mmrda.maharashtra.gov.in/regional-plan

Nijman, J. (2008). Against the odds: Slum rehabilitation in neoliberal Mumbai. Cities, 25(2), 73–85. doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2008.01.003

Pan, H., Shen, Q., & Zhang, M. (2009). Influence of urban form on travel behavior in four neighborhoods of Shanghai. Urban Studies, 46(2), 275–294. doi.org/10.1177/0042098008099355

Prefeitura de São Paulo. (2015). City of São Paulo strategic master plan. Retrieved from http://gestaourbana.prefeitura.sp.gov.br

OpenStreetMap. (2017). Planet dump. Retrieved from https://planet.osm.org, https://www.openstreetmap.org

OpenTripPlanner. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.opentripplanner.org/

R Core Team. (2014). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from http://www.R-project.org/

Robinson, J. (2011). Cities in a world of cities: The comparative gesture. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(1), 1–23. doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2010.00982.x

Rode, P., Kandt, J., & Baker, K. (2016). Access to the city: Transport, urban form and social exclusion in São Paulo, Mumbai and Istanbul. (Working paper). London: LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Rolnik, R., & Klintowitz, D. (2011). (Im)Mobility in the city of São Paulo. Estudios Avançados, 25(71), 89–108.

Salon, D., & Aligula, E. M. (2012). Urban travel in Nairobi, Kenya: Analysis, insights, and opportunities. Journal of Transport Geography, 22, 65–76. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2011.11.019

Scheiner, J. (2014). Residential self-selection in travel behavior: Towards an integration into mobility biographies. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 7(3), 15–28. doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.v7i3.439

Schwanen, T. (2016). Geographies of transport II: Reconciling the general and the particular. Progress in Human Geography, 41(3), 355–364. doi.org/10.1177/0309132516628259

Shirgaokar, M. (2016). Expanding cities and vehicle use in India: Differing impacts of built environment factors on scooter and car use in Mumbai. Urban Studies, 53(15), 3296–3316. doi.org/10.1177/0042098015608050

Shirgaokar, M. (2014). Employment centers and travel behavior: Exploring the work commute of Mumbai’s rapidly motorizing middle class. Journal of Transport Geography, 41, 249–258. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2014.10.003

Sudhakara Reddy, B., & Balachandra, P. (2012). Urban mobility: A comparative analysis of megacities of India. Transport Policy, 21, 152–164. doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2012.02.002

Tarigan, A. K. M., Susilo, Y. O., & Joewono, T. B. (2014). Segmentation of paratransit users based on service quality and travel behavior in Bandung, Indonesia. Transportation Planning and Technology, 37(2), 200–218. doi.org/10.1080/03081060.2013.870792

Tekeli, I. (2009). Cities in modern Turkey. In R. Burdett (Ed.), Istanbul. City of intersections (pp. 16-17). London: Urban Age Program, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Terzi, F., & Bölen, F. (2012). The potential effects of spatial strategies on urban sprawl in Istanbul. Urban Studies, 49(6), 1229–1250. doi.org/10.1177/0042098011410334

Tiwari, G. (2007). Urban transport in Indian cities. In R. Burdett (Ed.), Urban India: Understanding the maximum city (pp. 39-40). London: Urban Age Program, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Tran, H. A., & Schlyter, A. (2010). Gender and class in urban transport: The cases of Xian and Hanoi. Environment and Urbanization, 22(1), 139–155. doi.org/10.1177/0956247810363526

Venables, W. N., & Ripley, B. D. (2002). Modern applied statistics with S. Fourth edition. New York: Springer.

Zegras, C. (2010). The built environment and motor vehicle ownership and use: Evidence from Santiago de Chile. Urban Studies, 47(8), 1793–1817. doi.org/10.1177


Zhang, M. (2004). The role of land use in travel mode choice: Evidence from Boston and Hong Kong. Journal of the American Planning Association, 70(3), 344–360. doi.org/10.1080/01944360408976383

Zhang, Y., Wu, W., Li, Y., Liu, Q., & Li, C. (2014). Does the built environment make a difference? An investigation of household vehicle use in Zhongshan Metropolitan Area, China. Sustainability (Switzerland), 6(8), 4910–4930. doi.org/10.3390/su6084910

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2018.1359

Copyright (c) 2018 Jens Kandt