Network-based model for predicting the effect of fuel price on transit ridership and greenhouse gas emissions

Michael W. Levin, Ehsan Jafari, Rohan Shah, Stephen D. Boyles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


As fuel prices increase, drivers may make travel choices to minimize not only travel time, but also fuel consumption. Consideration of fuel consumption would affect route choice and influence trip frequency and mode choice. For instance, travelers may elect to live closer to their workplace, or use public transit to avoid fuel consumption and the associated costs. To incorporate network characteristics into predictions of the effects of fuel prices, we develop a multi-class combined elastic demand, mode choice, and user equilibrium model using a generalized cost function of travel time and fuel consumption with a combined solution algorithm. The algorithm is implemented in a custom software package, and a case study application on the Austin, Texas network is presented. We evaluate the fuel-price sensitivity of key variables such as drive-alone and transit class proportions, person-miles traveled, link-level traffic flow and per capita fuel consumption and emissions. These effects are examined across a heterogeneous demand set, with multiple user-classes categorized based on their value of travel time. The highest relative transit elasticities against fuel price are observed among low value of time classes, as expected. Although total personal vehicle travel decreases, congestion increases on some roads due to the generalized cost function. Reductions in system-wide fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are observed as well. The study uncovers the combined interactions among fuel prices, multi-modal choice behavior, travel performance, and resultant environmental impacts, all of which dictate the urban travel market. It also equips agencies with motivation to tailor emissions reduction and transit-ridership stimulus policies around the most responsive user classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Transportation Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Destination choice
  • Fuel prices
  • Mode choice
  • Static traffic assignment
  • Transit elasticity

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