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Does the Quality of Public Transit Affect Commuters’ Response to Gasoline Price Changes?

By Allison Smith

The effect of public transportation on commuters’ sensitivity to gas prices is examined using a proxy for the quality of public transportation. This proxy is measured as the difference in the individual’s predicted commute times by private transit and public transit, estimated using the individual’s observable characteristics. The interaction of gasoline price with this measure is found to have a significant effect on annual vehicle miles traveled. Further, there is a strong correlation between the quality of public transit and elasticity of demand. This indicates that public transit could play an important role in increasing the effectiveness of gasoline taxes. This has timely policy implications with the federal allocations for public transit infrastructure in the 2009 stimulus bill.

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Advisor: Christopher Timmins

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu