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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 15-Dec-2017
AbstractThis dissertation includes three essays on Transportation Economics, which studies two important questions in Transportation Economics: first, what are the effects of public investment in transportation infrastructure and provision of transportation goods? and second, how the market mechanism can improve the provision of transportation goods? Chapter one and two address the first question and chapter three addresses the second question. In the first chapter, using disaggregated data on highway construction projects from the California Department of Transportation from 2001 to 2013 and matching project locations with traffic data, I investigate the effect of highway construction projects on reducing congestion. The average effect of spending per mile of highway on both average speed and the traffic flow for the affected highway segments is positive. The increase in speed for morning and evening peak hours is between 0.30-0.45 mph, which accounts for 20 thousand saved hours per day. The reduction in travel time alone accounts for a $1.06 billion benefit over a 30-year period. This amount is equivalent to 60 percent of the total project cost and does not include the reduction in vehicle accidents, travel time reliability, and the effect on users of alternative routes. In the second chapter, I empirically investigate the effects of highway lane closure due to construction activity on user cost. I use data from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on locations and times of lane closures. These data are matched with disaggregated traffic data on hourly traffic speed and flow for each day for most traffic detectors over California highways. I then estimate a fixed effect model of the effects of lane closures on hourly average speed and hourly traffic flow. The results show heterogeneous effects of lane closures on different hours of the day. With most closures occurring over night, between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., I find a reduction in average speed between 4.5 and 2 mph and an average reduction in the traffic flow of 258 vehicles per hour. I find social costs of lane closures to motorists that are well below the lane late reopening penalties imposed by Caltrans. In the third chapter, I investigate the effect of the SFpark project, a parking experiment on drivers' behavior that was conducted from April 2011 to May 2013 in San Francisco. Using hourly data on occupancy rates of on-street parking, I estimate the responsiveness of commuters to price changes at the block level that vary across locations and time of day. I use a fixed effects model to estimate the elasticity of the occupancy rate with respect to price changes. Moreover, I employ a regression continuity design (RDD) to estimate the effect of different price changes on demand. The elasticities range between -0.13 to -0.44 and vary by time of day and level of occupancy rate.
Degree ProgramGraduate College