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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Review of the International Modeling Literature: Transit, Land Use, and Auto Pricing Strategies to Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled and Greenhouse Gas Emissions


California led the nation by passing the first global warming legislation in the U.S. California is tasked with reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The California Air Resources Board estimates that significant GHG reductions from passenger vehicles can be achieved through improvements in vehicle technology and the low carbon fuel standard; however, these reductions will not be enough to achieve 1990 levels if current trends in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) continue. Currently, most operational regional models in California have limited ability to represent the effects of transit, land use, and auto pricing strategies; efforts are now underway to develop more advanced modeling tools, including activity-based travel and land use models. In the interim, this report reviews the international modeling literature on land use, transit, and auto pricing policies to suggest a range of VMT and GHG reduction that regions might achieve if such policies were implemented. The synthesis of the literature categorizes studies, by geographic area, policy strength, and model type, to provide insight into order of magnitude estimates for 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-years time horizons. The analysis also highlights the effects of modeling tools of differing quality, policy implementation timeframes, and variations in urban form on the relative effectiveness of policy scenarios.

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