February 1, 2013


Heterogeneity among Motorists in Traffic Congested Areas in Southern California


1:40 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


This study examines the demographic and socioeconomic profiles of motorists at different times of day at six locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties by using on-road remote-sensing measurements and license plates images obtained in 2007 and 2008 by the California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The remote sensing data provide license plate images in addition to speed, time to the second, and emissions. By matching the license plate images to California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration records, anonymized individual vehicle ownership records can be obtained. The missing demographic and socioeconomic profiles of vehicle owners are supplemented with census data at the spatially fine level of census block groups. This study uses a continuous-time survival model to analyze the varying demographic and socioeconomic profiles of motorists in the weekdays. The empirical results indicate that those who travel in the peak hours are more likely to be younger, to have lower education attainment, to have lower median household income, more likely to be non-English speakers and to be non-white, and less likely to be in management and professional occupations. This study demonstrates an application of the remote sensing data to the analysis of the costs of traffic congestion at a spatially and temporally disaggregated level. The results show that the burden of congestion is not evenly distributed among income groups. The congestion cost borne by the bottom income group is comparatively small even though they represent the highest share of the total observations at some study locations.

Biographical Sketch

Jennifer has recently completed the PhD degree in Geography from UC Davis, and is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. She is analyzing the on-road vehicle emissions data from the California South Coast Air Quality Management District under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Williams. Prior
to her study at Davis, she worked at Resources For the Future in Washington, D.C., where she conducted research in climate change policy. She has also conducted a study on transfer of clean technologies to China while working at the U.S. Department of Energy. Jennifer is interested in issues related to energy, transportation, land use, and climate change. She holds a M.S. degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis, Masters of Public Affairs and Environmental Science from Indiana University Bloomington, and Bachelor of Business Administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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