The cost of travel, which depends largely on fuel prices, can have a significant effect on the allocation of land use, the amount of travel, selected modes, and route choice. With the volatility of energy prices during the past several decades, the growing instability of energy supply - both domestic and foreign - and ever-growing demand, it is difficult to predict fuel prices and thus the cost of travel. To begin to grapple with such uncertainty, planners must understand the potential effects of energy prices. With a knowledge of these effects, better planning can be achieved to accommodate the likely outcomes. This paper investigates the effects of increased fuel prices on the performance of future transportation systems by using an integrated land use and transportation model. Several scenarios build on national macroeconomic forecasts of changes in household and employment allocations with future transportation network improvements, modeled for 2030 in the capital megaregion area. The scenarios are designed so that the effect on land use and travel behavior from changes in fuel prices and economy is captured. The model results show that increased fuel prices lead to a denser land use pattern and a reduction in automobile mode share and vehicle miles traveled, even though fuel economy increases. The reduction is less pronounced if fuel economy increases significantly. When technological advances lead to very high fuel economy in the future, it may be necessary for policy intervention to increase travel cost to meet planning goals that aim to prevent sprawl.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering