Effective GPS-based panel survey sample size for urban travel behavior studies
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This research develops a framework to estimate the effective sample size of Global Positioning System (GPS) based panel surveys in urban travel behavior studies for a variety of planning purposes. Recent advances in GPS monitoring technologies have made it possible to implement panel surveys with lengths of weeks, months or even years. The many advantageous features of GPS-based panel surveys make such surveys attractive for travel behavior studies, but the higher cost of such surveys compared to conventional one-day or two-day paper diary surveys requires scrutiny at the sample size planning stage to ensure cost-effectiveness. The sample size analysis in this dissertation focuses on three major aspects in travel behavior studies: 1) to obtain reliable means for key travel behavior variables, 2) to conduct regression analysis on key travel behavior variables against explanatory variables such as demographic characteristics and seasonal factors, and 3) to examine impacts of a policy measure on travel behavior through before-and-after studies. The sample size analyses in this dissertation are based on the GPS data collected in the multi-year Commute Atlanta study. The sample size analysis with regard to obtaining reliable means for key travel behavior variables utilizes Monte Carlo re-sampling techniques to assess the trend of means against various sample size and survey length combinations. The basis for the framework and methods of sample size estimation related to regression analysis and before-and-after studies are derived from various sample size procedures based on the generalized estimating equation (GEE) method. These sample size procedures have been proposed for longitudinal studies in biomedical research. This dissertation adapts these procedures to the design of panel surveys for urban travel behavior studies with the information made available from the Commute Atlanta study. The findings from this research indicate that the required sample sizes should be much larger than the sample sizes in existing GPS-based panel surveys. This research recommends a desired range of sample sizes based on the objectives and survey lengths of urban travel behavior studies.