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Road supply and traffic in California urban areas

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  • Hansen, Mark
  • Huang, Yuanlin

Abstract

We estimate relationships between the supply of state highways, measured in lane-miles, and the quantity of traffic, measured in vehicle-miles traveled, for urban counties and metropolitan areas in the state of California. The analysis employs a panel data set of annual observations for the years 1973 to 1990. We estimate several versions of a log-linear model including fixed regional and time period effects. Our main concern is with models of state highway (as opposed to total) vehicle-miles traveled. By using two types of models designed to capture long-term effects, we estimate that state highway vehicle-miles traveled has a lanemile elasticity of 0.6-0.7 at the county level and 0.9 at the metropolitan level, and that the full impact of vehicle-miles traveled materializes within five years of the change in road supply. We also consider limited data on off-state highway vehicle-miles traveled, and find no conclusive evidence that increases in state highway lane-miles have affected traffic on other roads. Population, income, and gasoline price elasticities are also discussed. We find that, even when all these factors are accounted for, there has been a sharp increase in the propensity towards vehicle travel over the period of study, particularly during the late 1980s.

Suggested Citation

  • Hansen, Mark & Huang, Yuanlin, 1997. "Road supply and traffic in California urban areas," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 205-218, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:31:y:1997:i:3:p:205-218
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