With soaring oil prices and growing concerns for global warming, there is increasing interest in the environmental performance of transportation systems. This dissertation contributes to this growing literature through three independent yet related projects essays that deal with transportation technology, infrastructure, and policy.
My first essay analyzes the increasing interest for hybrid cars by Californians based on a statewide phone survey conducted in July of 2004 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) using discrete choice models. Results suggest that the possibility for single drivers to use hybrid vehicles in HOV lanes is more important than short term concerns for air pollution, support for energy efficiency policies, long term concerns for global warming, education, and income. This suggests that programs designed to improve the environmental performance of individual vehicles need to rely on tangible benefits for drivers; to make a difference, they cannot rely on environmental beliefs alone.
The second essay is concerned with assessments of Travel Demand Management (TDM) policies, which have been used to deal with congestion, air pollution, and now global warming. I compare two TDM programs: Rule 2202 (the on-road motor vehicle mitigation options in southern California) and the Commute Trip Reduction Program (CTR) in Washington State. My results show that after 2002, the impacts of Rule 2202 are mixed. Commuters’ modal choices are affected by worksite characteristics but only two (out of six) basic strategies affect the change in average vehicle ridership (AVR). Moreover, the level of subsidies appears to play an important role in commuting behavior. In Washington State, location has an impact on AVR and combinations of location and employee duties influence the single occupancy vehicle index. Details of the CTR and its relative success suggest that there is room for improving Rule 2202 by making it friendlier to businesses and more effective.
Finally, I examine the health impacts of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and PM (particulate matter) generated by trains moving freight through the Alameda Corridor to and from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. After estimating baseline emissions for 2005, I examine two scenarios: in the first one, I assume that all long-haul and switching locomotives are upgraded to Tier 2 (from Tier 1); in the second scenario, all Tier 2 locomotives operating in the study area are replaced with cleaner, Tier 3 locomotives. I find that mortality from PM exposure accounts for the largest component of health impacts, with 2005 annual costs from excess mortality in excess of $40 million. A shift to Tier 2 locomotives would save approximately half of these costs while the benefits of shifting from Tier 2 to Tier 3 locomotives would be much smaller. To my knowledge, this is the first comprehensive assessment of the health impacts of freight train transportation in a busy freight corridor.