RFF's Research on Transportation - Resources for the Future


RFF's Research on Transportation - Resources for the Future




The use of passenger vehicles and trucks can cause congestion and traffic

accidents and contributes to environmental issues such as climate change

and poor air quality. A challenge for policymakers is to identify strategies that

will reduce these problems at low cost—while ensuring that consumers and

businesses continue to receive the benefits from access to affordable and

convenient transportation options.

RFF experts address these issues by analyzing how transportation policies and

market forces affect the decisions of consumers, automakers, and other businesses,

including what vehicles to make and use and how much to drive. Learning about

their behavior is the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, and consequences

of different policies for reducing congestion, accidents, and environmental

problems. Below are a few examples of recent research and analysis.

Controlling Ozone Pollution

In this RFF discussion paper, “Getting Cars Off the Road: The Cost-Effectiveness of

an Episodic Pollution Control Program,” RFF’s Maureen Cropper and colleagues

Yi Jiang, Anna Alberini, and Patrick Baur examine the cost-effectiveness and

feasibility of a permitting program for controlling transportation pollution and find

that a permit price of $75 per season would remove 34 to 44 percent of cars and

light-duty trucks from roads on high-ozone days.

Evaluating the Impacts of the “Cash-for-Clunkers” Program

In “Evaluating ‘Cash-for-Clunkers’: Program Effects on Auto Sales and the

Environment,” authors Shanjun Li, Elisheba Spiller, and RFF’s Joshua Linn review

the program that was designed to encourage consumers to retire older vehicles

and purchase more fuel-efficient ones. They find that little new demand was

created because many of the vehicle purchases made during the program would

have taken place anyway. Consequently, the fiscal cost of reducing carbon

dioxide emissions was higher than that of other policies.

The Future of Natural Gas Vehicles

“Will Natural Gas Vehicles Be in Our Future?” In this issue brief, RFF’s Alan

Krupnick examines whether natural gas will become a widespread fuel choice

in the United States in light of higher gasoline prices. He finds that heavy-duty

trucks running on liquefied natural gas can help reduce oil consumption and

carbon dioxide emissions with reasonably competitive cost-effectiveness, but

light-duty vehicles are only cost-competitive with significant subsidies.

ong>Researchong> and Analysis: The United States and European Markets and Developing Countries

Developed countries have adopted a wide range of policies that aim to reduce pollution emissions from passenger vehicles

and trucks, from fuel and vehicle taxes to fuel economy standards. RFF experts are examining how consumers, trucking

companies, and automakers respond to the complex incentives created by such policies, including the following issues:

• how consumer decisions are affected by public transportation options, commuting needs, and policies aimed at

reducing pollution;

• manufacturers’ choice of fuel economy in competitive markets;

the economics of natural gas trucks and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks;

the effects of fuel prices and vehicle taxes on new vehicle purchases;

• how the quality of public transportation affects vehicle use in US markets;

• whether gasoline prices affect urban and rural households differently;

• recent changes to US fuel economy standards for light trucks; and

• how fuel prices and other factors affect the fuel economy and use of heavy-duty trucks.

In developing countries, growing incomes are resulting in problems with congestion and air quality—and creating

challenges for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. RFF researchers are examining the consequences of potential

mitigation policies through research on the following topics:

the interactions among economic growth, vehicle ownership, public transportation, and vehicle use in developing

countries such as China;

the distributional consequences of fuel taxes and driving restrictions in Mexico and South America;

• consumer demand for fuel economy in India, as well as ways to reduce fuel consumption; and

the effects of Beijing’s car lottery system.

About CEEP

RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy (CEEP) conducts research to help policymakers understand the efficiency

and effectiveness of legislative, regulatory, and other options for the sustainable development of energy resources.

About RFF: 60 Years of Investing in Ideas

Since pioneering the field of environmental economics 60 years ago, RFF has delivered top-quality economic

research and policy analysis to public, private, and nonprofit leaders. RFF’s independence, credibility, relevance, and

academic rigor provide the foundation for intellectual leadership and innovation to set the future agenda for the

environmental policy community.

To learn more about CEEP’s research on transportation, contact

Joshua Linn, Fellow, at linn@rff.org, or Kristin Hayes, CEEP Center Manager, at hayes@rff.org.

1616 P St. NW • Washington, DC 20036 • www.rff.org/ceep


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