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Open Access Publications from the University of California
Policy briefs from ITS researchers.
Cover page of How Seven Cities Are Exploring Congestion Pricing Strategies

How Seven Cities Are Exploring Congestion Pricing Strategies

(2024)

Congestion pricing is a vehicle tolling system that imposes fees to drive within a congested area, typically a downtown district. Cities that already have congestion pricing policies in place have been studied extensively. Notable examples are Singapore, London, Stockholm, Milan, and Gothenburg. These cities have appreciated a range of benefits from congestion pricing, including reductions in peak traffic, vehicle miles traveled, and emissions, as well as increased revenues for transportation investments. 

Cover page of Universal Basic Mobility May Spark New Shared Mobility Markets in Underserved Communities

Universal Basic Mobility May Spark New Shared Mobility Markets in Underserved Communities

(2024)

A lack of reliable and affordable transportation options exacerbates socioeconomic inequities for low-income individuals, especially people of color. Universal basic mobility (UBM) programs are a new approach to alleviating financial barriers to travel. These programs provideindividuals with funds to pay for a variety of mobility options such as transit and shared modes (e.g., scooter share, bike share, ridehail). Early results suggest that UBM programs can have a range of positive impacts.

Our research chronicles the emergence of eight UBM programs in the US. Portland, Oregon, was the first to launch a UBM program in 2017 and has hosted two additional UBM programs over the years. There are, or have been, UBM pilots and/or programs in the California cities of Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Stockton as well as in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To compare these programs, our research team conducted interviews with city representatives and stakeholders and reviewed reports and other published materials.

Cover page of Using Vehicle Miles Traveled Instead of Level of Service as a Metric of Environmental Impact for Land Development Projects: Progress in California

Using Vehicle Miles Traveled Instead of Level of Service as a Metric of Environmental Impact for Land Development Projects: Progress in California

(2024)

Senate Bill (SB) 743 (2013) and its related regulations eliminated automobile level of service (LOS) and replaced it with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the primary transportation impact metric for land development projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. Actual implementation of the LOS-to-VMT shift was left up to lead agencies, primarily local governments. The LOS-to-VMT shift was expected to create many challenges, given the often-limited resources of local governments, the entrenched use of LOS, and the perceived lack of established practice regarding VMT estimation, mitigation, and monitoring. With those concerns in mind, researchers at the University of California, Davis investigated how local governments have been implementing the LOS-to-VMT shift for land development projects.  This policy brief summarizes the findings from that investigation.

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Cover page of Preparing for Future Airborne Pandemics: Lessons Learned from a Los Angeles Travel Case Study

Preparing for Future Airborne Pandemics: Lessons Learned from a Los Angeles Travel Case Study

(2024)

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 sparked conversations about how to best avoid large waves of airborne infections. A solution could save lives and avert an overwhelmed hospital system. Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) may be implemented early-on to reduce infections before pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines are available. This study evaluated the effectiveness of NPIs including cloth masks, N95 masks, antigen testing, and reductions in contact intensities. It also compared the effectiveness of interventions implemented during all activities to only high-risk work activities.

Cover page of Household Vehicle Choice in California: Behavior and Impacts

Household Vehicle Choice in California: Behavior and Impacts

(2024)

To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector, government programs and regulations are encouraging a transition from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), collectively referred to as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). California has targets of having 5 million PEVs and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles on the road by 2030, and 100% of new vehicle sales being zero-emission by 2035. An increasing diversity of vehicle types, paired with a growing demand for PEVs, has major implications for vehicle miles traveled (VMT), air pollution, and emissions. To better understand what is likely to happen,  researchers predict household vehicle preference and VMT by vehicle body and fuel type. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that research and provides policy implications.

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Cover page of Impacts of the Federal Tax Credit on the Decision to Lease or Purchase a Plug-in Electric Vehicle

Impacts of the Federal Tax Credit on the Decision to Lease or Purchase a Plug-in Electric Vehicle

(2024)

To mitigate climate change and air pollution, multiple US states and other countries have beensetting and adjusting goals and policies aimed at shifting sales from conventional, fossil-fuel–powered vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), defined as plug-in hybrid and battery electric (all-electric) vehicles. For example, US policies have offered federal tax credits for the purchase of PEVs, with limits set on how many PEVs from a single manufacturer, which PEVs, and which consumers qualify. A key to developing or adjusting these policies is understanding how financial incentives affect consumers’ decisions to purchase or lease PEVs. To better understand the impact of financial incentives on PEV leasing and purchasing, researchers at the University of California, Davis, analyzed survey responses from approximately 2,800 California PEV owners. The survey asked: If the federal tax credit were not available would you: purchase or lease the same PEV, switch to a different PEV, switch to a conventional or hybrid (non-plug in) vehicle, or not acquire a vehicle at all? This policy brief discusses findings from those survey responses and provides policy implications.

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Cover page of California Cities Face Trade-offs in Developing Plans and Policies for Transit-Oriented Development

California Cities Face Trade-offs in Developing Plans and Policies for Transit-Oriented Development

(2024)

California has ambitious climate policy goals, while also facing an acute housing affordability crisis. Transit-oriented development—higher-density residential or mixed-use development centered around high-quality transit stations—has emerged as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases while increasing housing supply. However, transit-oriented development is more complex and expensive to build than development in low-density, undeveloped areas. State and local governments have adopted numerous policies to encourage transit-oriented development, but little research has examined how various policies can be combined to produce on-the-ground success. Researchers at the University of California, Davis completed in-depth case studies of 11 California cities to understand their mix of strategies and how they have needed to reconcile sometimes competing policy goals in advancing transit-oriented development. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that research and provides policy implications.

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Cover page of Micromobility and Public Transit Environmental Design Integration

Micromobility and Public Transit Environmental Design Integration

(2024)

Micromobility—transportation using lightweight vehicles such as bicycles or scooters—has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, and air pollution, particularly when it is used to replace private vehicle use and for first- and last-mile travel in conjunction with public transit. The design of the built environment in and around public transit stations plays a key role in the integration of public transit and micromobility. The San Francisco Bay Area is a potential testbed for innovative and adaptive transit station design features that support micromobility, since it has relatively high public transit and shared micromobility usage, as well as high micromobility usage rates for trips to and from transit. The region’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) heavy rail stations are in the operation zone of seven shared micromobility operators.

Cover page of Overcoming the Barriers for Commercial Cargo Bike Goods Movement

Overcoming the Barriers for Commercial Cargo Bike Goods Movement

(2023)

The use of cargo bikes for last-mile deliveries has seen renewed interest, as more sustainable modes are needed to meet the carbon reduction strategies. Furthermore, cargo-bikes contain possibly the greatest co-benefits of any emission reduction strategies for the freight sector. With the goal of informing state, regional, and local government efforts for transforming local goods movement, researchers at the University of California, Davis synthesized the literature on cargo bikes for goods movement with a specific focus on the challenges facing California. Key findings from the research are summarized in this brief.

Cover page of E-bike Incentive Programs Reduce GHGs and Support Recreational Travel

E-bike Incentive Programs Reduce GHGs and Support Recreational Travel

(2023)

Local and state electric bike (e-bike) incentive programs offering point-of-sale or post-sale monetary discounts to consumers have been implemented across the United States since 2018. As yet, however, little is known about their effectiveness in changing travel behavior. To understand the outcomes of these incentive programs, UC Davis researchers analyzed survey data from rebate recipients in Northern California two months and one year after they acquired e-bikes. The rebate programs were evaluated for effects of e-bike ownership on travel behavior, including changes in bicycling, driving, and use of transit, and on greenhouse gas emissions. The team also suggest areas for future research.

View the NCST Project Webpage