Discrete choice models are a key technique for estimating the value of travel time (VTT). Often, stated choice data are used in which respondents are presented with trade-offs between travel time and travel cost and possibly additional attributes. There is a clear possibility that some respondents experience time constraints, leaving some of the presented options unfeasible. A model not incorporating information on these constraints would explain choices for faster and more expensive options as an indication that those respondents have a higher VTT when in reality they may be forced to select the more expensive option as a result of their personal constraints. This paper puts forward the hypothesis that this can have major impacts on findings in terms of heterogeneity in VTT measures. This paper examines via simulation the bias in VTT estimates and especially preference heterogeneity when such constraints are (not) accounted for. Empirical evidence is provided that preference heterogeneity is confounded with the travel budget impact on the availabilities of alternatives, and it is shown that there is a risk of producing biased estimates for appraisal VTT if studies do not explicitly model choice set formation. The inclusion of an opt-out alternative could be an effective measure to reduce the bias. This paper also explores the potential use of non-linear functional forms to capture the time budget impacts.
Tjiong, J., Hess, S., Dekker, T. & Ojeda-Cabral, M. (2018), Impact of travel time constraints on taste heterogeneity and non-linearity in simple time-cost trade-offs, Transportation Research Record, 2672(49) 135–145.