American Economic Review2014-10-13 4:26 PM

Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion

Abstract 

Public transit accounts for 1 percent of U.S. passenger miles traveled but attracts strong public support. Using a simple choice model, we predict that transit riders are likely to be individuals who commute along routes with severe roadway delays. These individuals' choices thus have high marginal impacts on congestion. We test this prediction with data from a strike in 2003 by Los Angeles transit workers. Estimating a regression discontinuity design, we find that average highway delay increases 47 percent when transit service ceases. We find that the net benefits of transit systems appear to be much larger than previously believed.


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American Economic Review

The American Economic Review is a general-interest economics journal. Established in 1911, the AER is among the nation's oldest and most respected scholarly journals in the economics profession.

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