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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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  • Nelson, Peter & Baglino, Andrew & Harrington, Winston & Safirova, Elena & Lipman, Abram, 2007. "Transit in Washington, DC: Current benefits and optimal level of provision," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 231-251, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:62:y:2007:i:2:p:231-251
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Adler, Martin W. & van Ommeren, Jos N., 2016. "Does public transit reduce car travel externalities? Quasi-natural experiments' evidence from transit strikes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 106-119.
    2. Xu, Wangtu & Lin, Weihua, 2016. "Selecting the public transit projects with PCA-DP technique: The example of Xiamen City," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 56-71.
    3. 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.
    4. Safirova, Elena & Gillingham, Kenneth & Houde, Sébastien, 2007. "Measuring marginal congestion costs of urban transportation: Do networks matter?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 734-749, October.
    5. Stefan Bauernschuster & Timo Hener & Helmut Rainer, 2015. "When Labor Disputes Bring Cities to a Standstill: The Impact of Public Transit Strikes on Traffic, Accidents, Air Pollution, and Health," CESifo Working Paper Series 5313, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Safirova, Elena A. & Houde, Sébastien & Harrington, Winston, 2007. "Spatial Development and Energy Consumption," Discussion Papers dp-07-51, Resources For the Future.
    7. 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.
    8. Stefan Bauernschuster & Timo Hener & Helmut Rainer, 2017. "When Labor Disputes Bring Cities to a Standstill: The Impact of Public Transit Strikes on Traffic, Accidents, Air Pollution, and Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 1-37, February.
    9. 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.
    10. Ihab Kaddoura & Benjamin Kickhöfer & Andreas Neumann & Alejandro Tirachini, 2015. "Agent-based optimisation of public transport supply and pricing: impacts of activity scheduling decisions and simulation randomness," Transportation, Springer, vol. 42(6), pages 1039-1061, November.
    11. Shen, Qing & Chen, Peng & Pan, Haixiao, 2016. "Factors affecting car ownership and mode choice in rail transit-supported suburbs of a large Chinese city," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 31-44.
    12. Beaudoin, Justin & Farzin, Y. Hossein & Lin Lawell, C.-Y. Cynthia, 2015. "Public transit investment and sustainable transportation: A review of studies of transit's impact on traffic congestion and air quality," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 15-22.
    13. 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.
    14. Ted Balaker & Cecilia Joung Kim, 2006. "Do Economists Reach a Conclusion On Rail Transit?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(3), pages 551-602, September.
    15. Litman, Todd, 2007. "Evaluating rail transit benefits: A comment," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 94-97, January.
    16. 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.
    17. repec:eee:jeeman:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:447-467 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Morrison, Geoffrey M. & Lin Lawell, C.-Y. Cynthia, 2016. "Does employment growth increase travel time to work?: An empirical analysis using military troop movements," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 180-197.
    19. Martin W. Adler & Jos N. van Ommeren, 2015. "Does Public Transit reduce Car Travel Externalities?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-011/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    20. Hala Abou-Ali & Alban Thomas, 2011. "Regulating Traffic to Reduce Air Pollution in Greater Cairo, Egypt," Working Papers 664, Economic Research Forum, revised 12 Jan 2011.
    21. Aydin, Nezir & Celik, Erkan & Gumus, Alev Taskin, 2015. "A hierarchical customer satisfaction framework for evaluating rail transit systems of Istanbul," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 61-81.
    22. Sun, Yanshuo & Guo, Qianwen & Schonfeld, Paul & Li, Zhongfei, 2016. "Implications of the cost of public funds in public transit subsidization and regulation," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 236-250.
    23. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
    • 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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