Semi-Parametric Hierarchical Bayes Estimates of New Yorkers' Willingness to Pay for Features of Shared Automated Vehicle Services
Taha H. Rashidi and
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In this paper, we contrast parametric and semi-parametric representations of unobserved heterogeneity in hierarchical Bayesian multinomial logit models and leverage these methods to infer distributions of willingness to pay for features of shared automated vehicle (SAV) services. Specifically, we compare the multivariate normal (MVN), finite mixture of normals (F-MON) and Dirichlet process mixture of normals (DP-MON) mixing distributions. The latter promises to be particularly flexible in respect to the shapes it can assume and unlike other semi-parametric approaches does not require that its complexity is fixed prior to estimation. However, its properties relative to simpler mixing distributions are not well understood. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of the MVN, F-MON and DP-MON mixing distributions using simulated data and real data sourced from a stated choice study on preferences for SAV services in New York City. Our analysis shows that the DP-MON mixing distribution provides superior fit to the data and performs at least as well as the competing methods at out-of-sample prediction. The DP-MON mixing distribution also offers substantive behavioural insights into the adoption of SAVs. We find that preferences for in-vehicle travel time by SAV with ride-splitting are strongly polarised. Whereas one third of the sample is willing to pay between 10 and 80 USD/h to avoid sharing a vehicle with strangers, the remainder of the sample is either indifferent to ride-splitting or even desires it. Moreover, we estimate that new technologies such as vehicle automation and electrification are relatively unimportant to travellers. This suggests that travellers may primarily derive indirect, rather than immediate benefits from these new technologies through increases in operational efficiency and lower operating costs.
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