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The impact of urban spatial structure on travel demand in the United States

  • Bento, Antonio M.
  • Cropper, Maureen L.
  • Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq
  • Vinha, Katja

The authors combine measures of urban form and public transit supply for 114 urbanized areas with the 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey to address two questions: (1) How do measures of urban form, including city shape, road density, the spatial distribution of population, and jobs-housing balance affect the annual miles driven and commute mode choices of U.S. households? (2) How does the supply of public transportation (annual route miles supplied and availability of transit stops) affect miles driven and commute mode choice? The authors find that jobs-housing balance, population centrality, and rail miles supplied significantly reduce the probability of driving to work in cities with some rail transit. Population centrality and jobs-housing balance have a significant impact on annual household vehicle miles traveled (VMT), as do city shape, road density, and (in rail cities) annual rail route miles supplied. The elasticity of VMT with respect to each variable is small, on the order of 0.10-0.20 in absolute value. However, changing several measures of form simultaneously can reduce annual VMT significantly. Moving the sample households from a city with the characteristics of Atlanta to a city with the characteristics of Boston reduces annual VMT by 25 percent.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3007.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 2003
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3007
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  1. Wheaton, William C., 1998. "Land Use and Density in Cities with Congestion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 258-272, March.
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  14. 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.
  15. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-62, March.
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  17. Fred Mannering & Clifford Winston, 1985. "A Dynamic Empirical Analysis of Household Vehicle Ownership and Utilization," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 215-236, Summer.
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