PhD: Investigating willingness to pay for low emission public transportation

PhD: Investigating willingness to pay for low emission public transportation

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In this thesis, we investigated how much bus users’ are willing to pay to reduce emissions that cause air pollution from buses using a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE). We considered two different types of emissions separately: global emissions that cause climate change and local emissions that impact on health. The context of the study is an existing low emission bus (LEB) scheme – the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The thesis addressed three research questions:

  1. Whether bus users value reduction in emissions from buses and determine if people distinguish between different types of emissions?

  2. If experience from regularly using a hydrogen bus has as an effect on the value users place in different characteristics of the bus service?

  3. Exploration of asymmetries in the preferences for attributes using a reference-dependent (pivoted) experimental design.  

This is the first study to investigate the effect of the introduction of a low emission public transport scheme on its users’ valuations using a DCE. The results provide us with insight to better inform how to implement LEB schemes.

Outcome and Translation:

Aberdeen bus users value buses that are cheaper, more frequent, more punctual and reduced emissions. Respondents seem to place a higher value in reducing local pollutant emissions than greenhouse gas emissions, thus suggesting they care more about emissions which have local consequences (i.e. poorer local air quality) than those that have global consequences (i.e. climate change). There was evidence of preference heterogeneity across the sample, specifically when splitting the sample based on the level of experience of using a hydrogen bus. Bus users with more experience using a hydrogen bus as their main service placed a higher value on reduced emissions and improved comfort inside the bus when compared to users with no or little experience using the hydrogen bus. Reduced emissions and increased comfort are the most salient differences between a hydrogen bus and a diesel bus, thus this was interpreted as experience of using the hydrogen buses having an effect in preferences. Finally, bus users’ preferences were consistent with prospect theory. Preferences for frequency, punctuality and fare exhibited loss aversion (loses loomed larger than gains), reference dependence and diminishing marginal utilities. This has policy implications, as the allocation of resources for a bus service should not assume linearity of preferences. For example, an improvement in frequency in one service will not make up for a similar deterioration in another service.

PhD Student: Luis Loría

Supervisors: Verity Watson (HERU); Kiso, T., Phimister, E. (Economics, UABS)

Publications

Loría, L.E. (2018) 'Investigating preferences for low emission buses', PhD Thesis, HERU, University of Aberdeen.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2019) 'Investigating users' preferences for Low Emission Buses: experiences from Europe's largest hydrogen bus fleet', Journal of Choice Modelling, 32, 100169.

Presentations:

Loría, L.E., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2015) ‘Investigating low emissions buses’, XIII Symposium of Mexican Students and Mexican Studies in the UK, University College London (UCL), London, England, 23-25 July 2015.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2017) 'Investigating bus users’ preferences for low emission buses: experiences from Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet', Workshop on Non-Market Valuation (WONV), University of Leeds, Leeds, England, 26-27 June 2017.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2017) 'Can bus users’ preferences bolster low emission bus schemes? Lessons from Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet' [Poster presentation], All-Energy, Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow, 10 May 2017.

Loría, L.E. (2017) 'Familiarity breeds liking: experiences from Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet' (Public Engagement), TEDx Talk, Aberdeen, 30 March 2017.

Loría, L.E. (2017) 'Lessons from the Aberdeen hydrogen bus project' (Public Engagement), PechaKucha Aberdeen, Volume 19: Feed your mind, Belmont Cinema, Aberdeen, 23 May 2017.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2017) 'Investigating willingness to pay for low emission buses', Workshop on Local Governance in Scotland and Malaysia, (organised by the University of Aberdeen and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia; Malaysian Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government; and Local Government Valuer Society, Malaysia), University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, 8 August 2017.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2017) 'Current experience matters: evidence from a reference dependent discrete choice experiment design', PhD Conference in Behavioural Science, Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 30 November 2017.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2017) 'Investigating bus user preferences for low emission buses. Lessons from the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project', H2FC Research Conference 2017, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, 11-13 December 2017.

Loría, L.E., Watson, V., Kiso, T. and Phimister, E. (2018) 'Can bus users’ preferences bolster low emission bus schemes? Lessons from Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet', Transport Research Arena 2018, Messe Wien, Vienna, Austria, 16-19 April 2018.