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Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion

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  • Michael L. Anderson

Abstract

Public transit accounts for 1 percent of U.S. passenger miles traveled but attracts strong public support. Using a simple choice model, we predict that transit riders are likely to be individuals who commute along routes with severe roadway delays. These individuals' choices thus have high marginal impacts on congestion. We test this prediction with data from a strike in 2003 by Los Angeles transit workers. Estimating a regression discontinuity design, we find that average highway delay increases 47 percent when transit service ceases. We find that the net benefits of transit systems appear to be much larger than previously believed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael L. Anderson, 2014. "Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2763-2796, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:9:p:2763-96
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.9.2763
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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