The valuation of travel time variability is derived either from a structural model, given information on departure time, or directly from a reduced-form model where departure time is assumed to be optimally chosen. The two models are theoretically equivalent under certain assumptions, hence are expected to yield similar results. We use stated preference data to compare the valuation of travel time variability under a structural model where trip-timing preferences are defined in terms of time-dependent utility rates, the “slope model”, against its reduced-form model. Two choice experiments are used that are identical except one has a fixed departure time while the other allows respondents to choose departure time freely. The empirical results in this paper do not support the theoretical equivalence of the two models as the implied value of travel time variability under the reduced-form model is an order of magnitude larger. This finding, which is robust to various specification tests, is in line with a recent Swedish study by Börjesson, Eliasson and Franklin [Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, 46(7), 855–873 (2012)]. Since our data allows a direct comparison of the two approaches, we are able to rule out some potential explanations lined up by past research for the observed discrepancy between the two models.