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Transit in Washington, DC: Current benefits and optimal level of provision

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  • Nelson, Peter
  • Baglino, Andrew
  • Harrington, Winston
  • Safirova, Elena
  • Lipman, Abram

Abstract

The discrepancy between transit’s large share of local transportation resources and its generally low share of local trips has raised questions about the use of scarce transportation funds for this purpose. We use a regional transport model consistent with utility theory and calibrated for the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to estimate the travel benefits of the local transit system to transit users and the congestion-reduction benefits to motorists. We find that (i) rail transit generates congestion-reduction benefits that exceed rail subsidies; (ii) the combined benefits of rail and bus transit easily exceed local transit subsidies generally; (iii) the lowest-income group receives a disproportionately low share of the transit benefits, both in absolute terms and as a share of total income; and (iv) for practical purposes, the scale of the current transit system is about optimal.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 62 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 231-251

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:62:y:2007:i:2:p:231-251

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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  1. De Borger, Bruno & Wouters, Sandra, 1998. "Transport externalities and optimal pricing and supply decisions in urban transportation: a simulation analysis for Belgium," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 163-197, March.
  2. Safirova, Elena & Gillingham, Kenneth & Parry, Ian & Nelson, Peter & Harrington, Winston & Mason, David, 2004. "8. Welfare And Distributional Effects Of Road Pricing Schemes For Metropolitan Washington Dc," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 179-206, January.
  3. Taylor, Brian D. & Fink, Camille N.Y., 2003. "The Factors Influencing Transit Ridership: A Review and Analysis of the Ridership Literature," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt3xk9j8m2, University of California Transportation Center.
  4. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
  5. Mohring, Herbert, 1972. "Optimization and Scale Economies in Urban Bus Transportation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 591-604, September.
  6. Kurt Van Dender & Stef Proost, 2001. "Optimal urban transport pricing with congestion and economies of density," Energy, Transport and Environment Working Papers Series ete0119, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Energy, Transport and Environment.
  7. Kain, John F. & Liu, Zvi, 1999. "Secrets of success: assessing the large increases in transit ridership achieved by Houston and San Diego transit providers," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 601-624.
  8. Baum-Snow, Nathaniel & Kahn, Matthew E., 2000. "The effects of new public projects to expand urban rail transit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 241-263, August.
  9. Bento, Antonio M. & Cropper, Maureen L. & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Vinha, Katja, 2003. "The impact of urban spatial structure on travel demand in the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3007, The World Bank.
  10. Harry Holzer & John Quigley & Steve Raphael, 2001. "Public transit and spatial distribution of minority employment: evidence from a natural experiment," Proceedings 909, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Lam, William H. K. & Cheung, Chung-Yu & Lam, C. F., 1999. "A study of crowding effects at the Hong Kong light rail transit stations," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 401-415, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Safirova, Elena A. & Houde, Sébastien & Lipman, D. Abram & Harrington, Winston & Bagliano, Andrew D., 2006. "Congestion Pricing: Long-Term Economic and Land-Use Effects," Discussion Papers dp-06-37, Resources For the Future.
  2. Michael L. Anderson, 2013. "Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion," NBER Working Papers 18757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Zegras, Christopher & Nelson, Joshua & Macário, Rosário & Grillo, Christopher, 2013. "Fiscal federalism and prospects for metropolitan transportation authorities in Portugal," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 1-12.
  4. Harrington, Winston & Safirova, Elena & Coleman, Conrad & Houde, Sebastien & Finkel, Adam M., 2014. "Distributional Consequences of Public Policies: An Example from the Management of Urban Vehicular Travel Abstract: This paper uses a spatially disaggregated computable general equilibrium model of a l," Discussion Papers dp-14-04, Resources For the Future.
  5. Siman Tang & Hong Lo, 2010. "On the financial viability of mass transit development: the case of Hong Kong," Transportation, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 299-316, March.
  6. Safirova, Elena A. & Houde, Sébastien & Harrington, Winston, 2007. "Spatial Development and Energy Consumption," Discussion Papers dp-07-51, Resources For the Future.
  7. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2009. "Should Urban Transit Subsidies Be Reduced?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 700-724, June.

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