Environment-friendly transportation system

Tao Tao

Policymakers have adopted built environment policies to modify people’s travel behavior and the related emissions. However, most studies have not examined the interactive impact between income level and built environment attributes on travel-related carbon emissions (TCE), and only several studies consider their nonlinear relationships. With data from the Twin Cities, US, this study estimated the nonlinear effects of built environment attributes and demographics on TCE. It further examined the interactive impacts between household income and built environment attributes. The findings highlight that demographics exert a greater influence on TCE than the built environment. Employment status, job accessibility, and gender are the most important predictors. Besides individual nonlinear relationships, household income and built environment attributes have salient interactive impacts on TCE. The results suggest that providing environment friendly and affordable transportation choices to low-income population, switching to clean energy vehicles, and offering more matched job opportunities to low-income population near their residence are promising to create a sustainable transportation system.

[Working paper]

Xinyi Wu, Tao Tao, Jason Cao, Yingling Fan, and Anu Ramaswami, 2020. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 75, 1-12.

Understanding how built environment features are associated with travel-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions is essential for planners to encourage environmentally sustainable travel through transportation and land use policies. Applying gradient boosting decision trees to the data from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, this study addresses two gaps in the literature by identifying critical built environment determinants of CO2 emissions, and more importantly, illustrating threshold effects of built environment elements. The results show that three neighborhood-level built environment factors have the strongest influences on CO2 emissions: distance to the nearest transit stop, job density, and land use diversity. The distance to downtowns also has a substantial impact. This study further confirms that built environment variables are effective only within a certain range. These threshold effects offer valuable implications for planners to achieve desirable environmental benefits efficiently.