A volatile relationship: The effect of changing gasoline prices on public support for mass transit

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Abstract

The determinants of public opinion toward public transit is a little-researched topic, though a better understanding of what makes consumers willing to support transit may reveal which attributes of transit consumers value most. One determinant of people's willingness to support investments in mass transit may be the price of fuel for transit's principal competition, the private automobile. In this paper, I examine the relationship between the cost of gasoline and stated willingness to invest public money in mass transit improvements. I hypothesize that fuel price volatility-in addition to price itself-is a determinant of support for more mass transit funding, controlling for other factors. As the price of gasoline becomes more uncertain, the public should, all else equal, support investment in mass transportation, a form of transportation that may provide some measure of protection from the price of fuel. Results suggest a strong effect of price volatility on consumers' willingness to support transit expenditures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research

Keywords

  • Gasoline prices
  • Mass transportation
  • Price volatility
  • Public opinion

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