Document Type

Master's thesis

Date of Degree

2011

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Paul F. Hanley

Abstract

The impact of fuel price changes can be seen in practically all sectors of the United States economy. Fuel prices directly and indirectly influence the daily life of most Americans. The national economy as well as the high standard of living we have come to enjoy in the United States is run on gasoline. Since the late 1990's the days of cheap oil and $1.00 gallons of gas are clearly over, understanding the influences of fuel price is more important now than ever. Since 1998 regular gasoline prices have increased $0.22 per gallon per year on average through the present with little evidence suggesting this trend will slow down or reverse substantially. The drastic and permanent change to the status quo of fuel prices has potentially rendered traditional knowledge of fuel price elasticities inapplicable to current analysis. Obtaining accurate measures of fuel price elasticities is important as it is used as a measure of personal mobility and can be related to the quality of life the public is experiencing. Price elasticities are also used in determining the future revenue available for surface transportation projects. Traditionally, short-run fuel price elasticities are thought to be inelastic allowing transportation agencies to ignore short-run fuel price changes to some degree when creating future projects and evaluating its economic feasibility. By using driving data collected from The National Evaluation of a Mileage-based Road User Study the fuel price elasticity of vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), as well as the sensitivity of gas prices relative to a historical high price, were estimated for the first year study participants using a panel data set approach with linear regression. The short-run fuel price elasticity of VMT was determined to be -1.71 with a range of -1.93 and -1.48. The elasticities found were significantly higher than the average short-run fuel price elasticity of -0.45 but can be rationalized by the impact poor economic conditions as well as the historically high fuel prices experienced prior to the researches time table had on the individuals driving behavior. The results suggest current short-run elasticities are not inelastic, if this trend continues transportation agencies must re-evaluate how they predict the future funding available for surface transportation projects.

Pages

iv, 32

Bibliography

32

Copyright

Copyright 2011 Charles Nicholas Hatz II