Traditional approaches to trip generation modelling rely on household travel surveys which are expensive and prone to reporting errors. On the other hand, mobile phone data, where spatio-temporal trajectories of millions of users are passively recorded has recently emerged as a promising input for transport analyses. However, such data has primarily been used for the development of human mobility models, extraction of statistics on human mobility behaviour, and origin-destination matrix estimation as opposed to the development of econometric models of travel demand. This is primarily due to the exclusion of user demographics from mobile phone data made available for research (owing to privacy reasons). In this study, we address this limitation by proposing a hybrid trip generation model framework where demographic groups are treated as latent or unobserved. The proposed model first predicts the demographic group membership probabilities of individuals based on their phone usage characteristics and then uses these probabilities as weights inside a latent class model for trip generation, with different classes representing different socio-demographic groups. The model is calibrated using the call log data of a sub-sample of users with known demographics and trip rates extracted from their GSM mobility data. The performance of the hybrid model is compared with that of a traditional trip generation model which uses observed demographic variables to validate the proposed methodology. This comparative analysis shows that the model fit and the prediction results of the hybrid model are close to those of the traditional model. The research thus serves as a proof-of-concept that the mobile phone data can be successfully used to develop econometric models of transport planning by having additional information for a subset of the users.
Bwambale, A., Choudhury, C.F. & Hess, S. (2019), Modelling trip generation using mobile phone data: a latent demographics approach. Journal of Transport Geography, 76, Pages 276-286.