Topics in Transportation

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Comiskey
Hosted By: Transportation and Public Utilities Group
  • Chair: Bryan S. Weber, City University of New York-College of Staten Island

Modernizing United States Freight Rail Regulation

Richard Schmalensee
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wesley Wilson
University of Oregon


By 1970, regulation of railroads under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 had resulted in an industry that was in financial ruin and unresponsive to changes in the marketplace. Subsequent legislation, which culminated in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, was intended to resurrect the industry and did so. A Congressionally-mandated National Academy of Sciences study examined trends in the industry and the current regulatory regime and offered a number of recommendations, arguing that modernization can yield substantial benefits by modernizing what has become an outdated and ineffective system. This paper summaries some of the main findings of that study.

Logistical and Derived Transport Demand Implications of Railroad Innovation in the Grain Supply Chain: Contrasting Shuttle and Non-Shuttle Grain Elevator Services

Elvis Ndembe
Concordia College


Studies have shown that partial deregulation of the U.S railroad industry initiated innovations that revolutionized freight transportation that benefited both carriers and shippers. Despite some evidence showing that the benefits from innovation have tended to diminish over time, some changes have had a long lasting effect in the agricultural grain supply chain. For example, railroads have increasingly placed emphasis on larger capacity shipments, consequently longer trains to transport grains. This has led to the proliferation of “shuttle grain elevators” those with capabilities to load 100 or more rail cars within twenty-four hours. Despite the potential effect of shuttle services, few or no studies have specifically evaluated the advantages grain elevators with shuttle capabilities have over those without (i.e. non-shuttle elevators). To accomplish this task, this paper utilized a derived demand model approach with estimated modal demand elasticities for rail and truck services used to differentiate elevators with shuttle capabilities from those without.

Decarbonizing Europe: Will the Transportation Sector Undermine this Policy?

Alexander Eisenkopf
Zeppelin University
Andreas Knorr
German University of Administrative Sciences-Speyer


In the European Union, 90 per cent of all transport activities continue to rely on petroleum products. The transportation sector currently accounts for about 25 per cent of total CO2 emissions. European climate policy has set itself the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 per cent in 2050. For the transport sector, the European Commission has already mandated a sector-specific reduction target of 60 per cent of C02 emissions by 2050. Our paper discusses the challenges resulting from this ambitious target. It addresses the question whether the envisaged transformation of the transport sector can be successfully implemented. Our analysis focuses on e-mobility and fuel economy standards as preferred policy measures as well as the potential contribution of the existing EU emission trading system (ETS) in achieving the decarbonization goal effectively and efficiently. It also takes into account current scenarios regarding future oil price trends.

Sturdy Inference: A Bayesian Analysis of Motor Vehicle Fatalities in the Context of Parameter Uncertainty and Model Ambiguity

Richard Fowles
University of Utah
Peter Loeb
Rutgers University
William Clarke
Bentley University


Motor vehicle crashes continue to result in large numbers of fatalities each year and represent the leading cause of death for young persons. This study is the first to examine specifically the effects of a set of focus variables thought to be major contributors to motor vehicle fatalities including cellphones and a recently suggested determinant, i.e., suicidal propensities, after controlling for numerous vehicle, socio-economic, and driver characteristics. The analysis is conducted using a rich panel data set for the period 1980 to 2014 by state and the District of Columbia using a new Bayesian statistic developed by Leamer, i.e., S-values. This statistic summarizes both estimation uncertainty and model ambiguity by considering millions of potential models of accidents. The results are then compared to classical econometric estimates.
Ken Boyer
Michigan State University
Angela Du
Fort Hays State University
Ian Savage
Northwestern University
Levent Kutlu
Antalya International University
JEL Classifications
  • L5 - Regulation and Industrial Policy
  • L9 - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities