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Positive fuel price elasticities of expressway traffic flows: Insights for policymakers and management strategists

Kashif Ahmed, Takashi Kamihigashi and Miwa Matsuo

Transport Policy, 2023, vol. 142, issue C, 99-114

Abstract: Previous research suggests that higher fuel prices generally lead to reduced traffic flows. We argue that higher fuel prices may increase traffic flows on expressways that provide shorter trips than local roads. The Hanshin Expressway in Japan, which runs through the metropolitan area surrounding Osaka and Kobe, provides an appropriate research context. We analyzed 16.57 million hourly traffic flow observations and discovered that higher fuel prices lead to increased expressway traffic flows. In our dataset, vehicles were divided into small and standard private vehicles as well as small, medium, and large commercial vehicles (such as buses and trucks). Based on statistical tests, we found that small private cars have higher elasticity (0.13) than standard private cars (0.08), whereas large commercial vehicles have higher elasticity (0.35) than medium and small ones. Moreover, medium commercial vehicles have similar elasticity (0.22) to small ones (0.21). Additionally, an analysis of elasticities in peak/off-peak hours across weekdays/weekends, medium-run elasticities, and asymmetric effects shed light on drivers’ behavior. Thus, our results provide valuable insights for policymakers and management strategists.

Keywords: Fuel price; Traffic flow; Positive elasticity; Vehicle size; Private vehicle; Commercial vehicle (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2023.08.012

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