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Does the Substitutability of Public Transit Affect Commuters’ Response to Gasoline Price Changes?

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  • Spiller, Elisheba

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Stephens, Heather M.
  • Timmins, Christopher
  • Smith, Allison
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    Abstract

    This paper determines the extent to which gasoline price elasticity is affected by the availability of a substitute for driving—public transportation. Measuring the substitutability of public transportation presents an important practical difficulty. To address this, we predict individuals’ commute times by private and public transit conditional upon their observable characteristics and create a measure of substitutability between the two modes based on transit times. This allows us to measure the effect of public transportation on commuters’ sensitivity to gasoline prices. The interaction of gasoline price with our constructed substitutability measure is found to have a significant effect on annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT), indicating that investments in public transit could play an important role in altering motorists’ sensitivity to gasoline prices and increasing the effectiveness of a gasoline tax. However, we find evidence to support a policy of increasing public transit accessibility only in the presence of increased gasoline taxes.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-12-29.

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    Date of creation: 18 Jul 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-12-29

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    Keywords: public transportation; elasticity; commuting; gasoline prices;

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    Cited by:
    1. Antonio M. Bento & Jonathan E. Hughes & Daniel T. Kaffine, 2012. "Carpooling and Driver Responses to Fuel Price Changes: Evidence from Traffic Flows in Los Angeles," Working Papers 2012-06, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.

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