(Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Transportation Research Board or the National Academies)
Sponsored by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Transportation Economics Committee (ABE20) focuses on economic concepts and methods applied to the analysis of transportation systems and infrastructure. Applicable topics include benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and redistributive and other economic effects of transportation investment, pricing, regulation, cost allocation, and other public policies.
The TRB Annual meeting is January 12-16, 2014. The Transportation Economics Committee meeting is:
The spotlight theme for the 2014 TRB Annual Meeting is Celebrating Our Legacy, Anticipating Our Future. This theme reflects the move of the Annual Meeting from the Connecticut Avenue hotels, where it has been for nearly 60 years, to the D.C. Convention center in 2015. In recognition of this historic milestone, the Technical Activities Council (TAC) has requested each TRB standing committee to share their key research breakthroughs and major advancements.
The Transportation Economics Committee supports research in the application of economic theory and empirical methods to numerous problems in the transportation field. The application of economics over three decades has gone from being dismissed as irrelevant to being imbedded and/or considered in investment and policy decisions, and this committee and its members have been an integral part of this evolution. The scope of our impact is enormous, and constitutes research of the best kind, where theory and practice intersect. This is reflected in the quantity and variety of research undertaken in this area – benefit cost analysis, congestion pricing, transportation funding, impact of transportation on the economy and pricing. So much research was needed the committee helped form other TRB committees:
Additionally, the use of economic analysis (such as benefit-cost analysis) has grown from almost non-existent to mainstream (such as in TIGER grants). The committee and its members have been strong proponents of this change and continue to help guide practitioners with our research and with guidance posted at the benefit-cost analysis website: bca.transportationeconomics.org.
To maintain and build an efficient transportation network will need greater use of economic principles to make better investment decisions. Although there has been an increased interest in using economic analysis in investment decision making, it is not yet broadly used. Some of this may be due to a lack of understanding of the methods available or to the limitations of the tools available to provide useful information to the decision makers. The committee’s goals focus on addressing these issues:
The areas of advancement in economics will come from research in behavioral economics and the study of the pricing systems in operation. These research areas could improve our understanding of the value of time and value of reliability used in benefit cost analysis. Additionally, the valuation of livability and improvements to non-motorized modes will be addressed through applying willingness-to-pay concepts. There is increased interest in understanding the impact of transportation on the economy, in particular the freight system and the development of performance measures. This research would promote the use of economics in transportation decision making.
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