Category Archives: working papers

A survival analysis-based choice set formation approach for single-destination choice using GPS travel data

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Recent working paper:

This research investigates how land use and road network structure influence home-based single-destination choice in the context of trip chains, using the in-vehicle GPS travel data in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area. We propose a new choice set formation approach which combines survival analysis and random selection. Our empirical findings reveal that: (1) Accessibility and diversity of services at the destination influences individuals’ destination choice. (2) Route-specific network measures such as turn index, speed discontinuity, and trip chains’ travel time saving ratio also display statistically significant effects on destination choice. Our approach contributes to methodologies in modeling destination choice. The results improve our understanding on travel behavior and have implications on transportation and land use planning.

This paper is part of Arthur Huang’s Dissertation.

Causality in the Link Between Road Network Growth and Regional Development

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Recent working paper:

  • Iacono, M. and D. Levinson (2013) Causality in the Link Between Road Network Growth and Regional Development

    This paper investigates the relationship between the growth of road networks and regional development. We test for mutual causality between the growth of road networks (which are divided functionally into local roads and highways) and changes in county-level population and employment. We employ a panel data set containing observations of road mileage by type for all Minnesota counties over the period 1988 to 2007 to fit a model describing changes in road networks, population and employment. Results indicate that causality runs in both directions between population and local road networks, while no evidence of causality in either direction is found for networks and local employment. We interpret the findings as evidence of a weakening influence of road networks (and transportation more generally) on location, and suggest methods for refining the empirical approach described herein.

Modeling the Commute Mode Share of Transit Using Continuous Accessibility to Jobs

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Recent working paper:

This paper presents the results of an accessibility-based model of aggregate commute mode share, focusing on the share of transit relative to auto. It demonstrates the use of continuous accessibility — calculated continuously in time, rather than at a single or a few departure times — for the evaluation of transit systems. These accessibility calculations are accomplished using only publicly-available data sources. A binomial logit model is estimated which predicts the likelihood that a commuter will choose transit rather than auto for a commute trip based on aggregate characteristics of the surrounding area. Variables in this model include demographic factors as well as detailed accessibility calculations for both transit and auto. The model achieves a ρ2 value of 0.597, and analysis of the results suggests that continuous accessibility of transit systems may be a valuable tool for use in modeling and forecasting.

This is based on Andrew Owen’s Master’s Thesis.

Which Station? Access Trips and Bike Share Route Choice


Recent working paper:

Bike share systems are an emerging technology in the United States and worldwide, but little is known about how people integrate bike share trip segments into their daily travel. Through this research, we attempt to fill this knowledge gap by studying how people navigate from place to place using the Nice Ride Minnesota bike share system in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We develop a theoretical model for bike share station choice inspired by research on transit route choice literature. We then model people’s choice of origin station using a conditional logit model to evaluate their sensitivity to time spent walking, deviation from the shortest path, and a set of station amenity and neighborhood control variables. As expected, people prefer to use stations that do not require long detours out of the way to access. However, commuters and non-work travelers differ in how they value the walking portion of their trip, and what station amenities and neighborhood features increase a station’s utility. The results from this study will be important for planners who need a better understanding of bike share user behavior in order to design or optimize their system. The findings also provide a strong foundation for future study about comprehensive route choice analysis of this new bicycling technology.

HOT or Not: Driver Elasticity to Price on the MnPASS HOT Lanes


Recent working paper:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has added MnPASS High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on two freeway corridors. While not the first HOT lanes in the country, the MnPASS lanes are the first implementation of road pricing in Minnesota and possess a dynamic pricing schedule. Tolls charged to single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) are adjusted every three minutes according to HOT lane vehicle density. Given the infancy of systems like MnPASS, questions remain about drivers’ responses to toll prices. Three field experiments were conducted on the corridors during which prices were changed. Data from the field experiments as well as two years of toll and traffic data were analyzed to measure driver responses to pricing changes. Driver elasticity to price was positive with magnitudes less than 1.0. This positive relationship between price and demand is in contrast with the previously held belief that raising the price would discourage demand. We hypothesize this is because drivers use price as a signal of time savings. In addition, drivers consistently paid between approximately $60-120 per hour of travel time savings, much higher than the average value of time. Reasoning for these results is discussed as well as the implications these results have on the pricing of HOT lanes.

This paper is part of Michael Janson’s Master’s Thesis.

Incremental Accessibility Benefits and HOT Lane Subscription Choice


Recent working paper:

This paper presents the results of an investigation into the factors contributing to toll lane subscription choice using data from the MnPASS HOT lane system operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. A binomial logit model is estimated which predicts the likelihood that a household will have a subscription to the MnPASS system based on aggregate characteristics of the surrounding area. Variables in this model include demographic factors as well as an estimate of the incremental accessibility benefit provided by the MnPASS system. This benefit is estimated using detailed accessibility calculations. The model achieves a pseudo-r-squared value of 0.634, and analysis of the results suggest that incremental accessibility benefits play a statistically and practically significant role in determining how likely households are to hold a toll lane subscription.

Catalysts And Magnets: Built Environment Effects On Bicycle Commuting


Recent working paper:

What effects do bicycle infrastructure and the built environment have on people’s decisions to commute by bicycle? While many studies have considered this question, commonly employed methodologies fail to address the unique statistical challenge of modeling such a low mode share. Additionally, self-selection effects that are not adequately accounted for may lead to overestimation of built environment impacts. This study addresses these two key issues by using a zero-inflated negative binomial model to jointly estimate participation in and frequency of commuting by bicycle, controlling for demographics, residential preferences, and travel attitudes. The findings suggest a strong self selection effect and modest contributions of bicycle accessibility: that bicycle lanes act as “magnets” to attract bicyclists to a neighborhood, rather than being the “catalyst” that encourages non-bikers to shift modes. The results have implications for planners and policymakers attempting to increase bicycling mode share via the strategic infrastructure development.

This is based on Jessica Schoner’s Master’s Thesis.

An Agent-Based Model of Origin Destination Estimation (ABODE)

Recently published:

  • Tilahun, Nebiyou and Levinson, David (2013) An Agent-Based Model of Origin Destination Estimation (ABODE), Journal of Transport and Land Use 6(1), pp 73-88.
    This paper introduces ABODE, an agent-based model for Origin-Destination (OD) demand estimation, that can serve as a work trip distribution model. The model takes residential locations of workers and the locations of employers as exogenous and deals specifically with the interactions between firms and workers in creating a job-worker match and the commute outcomes. It is meant to illustrate that by explicitly modeling the search and hiring process, origins and destinations (ODs) can be linked at a disaggregate level that is reasonably true to the actual process. The model is tested on a toy-city as well as using data from the Twin Cities area. The toy-city model illustrates that the model predicts reasonable commute outcomes, with agents selecting the closest work place when wage and skill differentiation is absent in the labor market. The introduction of wage dispersion and skill differentiation increases the average home to work distances considerably. Using data from Twin Cities area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, we also show that the model captures aggregate commute outcomes well. Overall, the results suggest that the behavior rules as implemented lead to reasonable patterns. Future improvements and directions are also discussed.

You can play with the model at

The Journal of Transport and Land Use enters year six

Recently published:

  • Levinson, David (2013) The Journal of Transport and Land Use enters year six, Journal of Transport and Land Use 6(1), pp 1-5.
    The Journal of Transport and Land Use enters its sixth volume continuing to publish selected peer-reviewed papers from the most recent World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research. The 2014 Symposium will be held in Delft, Netherlands, and we hope to see a large turnout. Look out for invitations and announcements.

Key items in this article include

  1. Metrics
  2. In the past year, the JTLU website has had almost 17,000 visits. According to Google Scholar, we have an h-index of 16, 16 articles cited 16 or more times, and a citation rate of 14.2 citations per article (this is up from 8.3 last year, and 3.6 the year before). This is not the equivalent of the (in)famous ISI 2-year impact factor, which has not been computed yet, and awaits inclusion in their database, but may be analogous to a 5-year impact factor. The articles that are published survive a rigorous review process. The Journal’s acceptance rate is just above 30 percent. We are also pleased that we are now indexed by Scopus, an important international abstract and citation database that catalogs qualified peer reviewed journals.

  3. Review Policies: Accept/Not Accept
  4. Going forward, JTLU is adopting clearer review criteria.
    All articles (including manuscripts, letters, literature reviews, and methods) will be accepted or not on the first round. We are eliminating “revise and resubmit” and “resubmit for re-
    view” as categories.

  5. Review Policies: Significance
  6. We are eliminating “significance” as a review criterion. Articles should be original, scientifically correct and technically sound, transparent, reproducible and adhere to data sharing standards, and clearly written to be understood. They must also be on the topic of Transport and Land Use (the “and” in our title is a Boolean “and,” denoting intersection, not an “or,” indicating union, we often get submissions which we desk- reject on either Transport or Land Use, but not considering the interaction).

  7. Paper length heterogeneity
  8. The “minimum publishable unit” is often derided in the academic literature as a paper in which the authors spread results in too many places, pursuing number of publications over quality of paper.
    On the other hand, sometimes papers are too long, reciting things that are well known.

  9. Editorial Advisory Board
  10. After five full years, we are making some significant changes to the Editorial Advisory Board (EAB).

Property Tax on Privatized Roads

Recently published:

  • Junge, Jason and David Levinson (2013)
    Property Tax on Privatized Roads.
    Research in Transportation Business and Management. [doi]
    Roads cover a significant fraction of the land area in many municipalities. The public provision of roads means this land is exempt from the local property tax. Transferring roads from public to private ownership would not only remove maintenance costs from city budgets, but increase potential property tax revenue as well. This paper calculates the value of the land occupied by roads in sample cities and determines the potential revenue increase if they were subject to property tax. Further calculation computes the extent to which the property tax rate could be reduced if the land value of roads were added to the tax base.

    JEL code: R40, R11, R14

    Keywords: tax, land value, locational analysis, transportation finance