Understanding the evolution of transportation pricing and commuting at MIT : a study of historical commuting data
Author(s)Hartnett, Matthew R
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
John P. Attanucci and Frederick P. Salvucci.
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In summer of 2016, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will introduce Access MIT, a new commuter benefits program aimed at reducing employee single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting. This initiative is the latest in a long series of incremental adjustments to employee commuting benefits to provide (dis)incentives to SOV commuting and the use of transit. MIT has implemented these programs as a response to (1) state and local regulations addressing the environment, (2) tax incentives that allow MIT to offer transportation benefits to employees using pre-tax dollars and (3) dramatically increasing costs of providing parking. This research utilizes biennial MIT commuting surveys and related data sets for years 2004 through 2014 in order to achieve a fuller understanding of historical trends in transportation benefits pricing and employee commuting behavior at the Institute. Identified trends are analyzed in order to determine which benefit program or individual commuter characteristics might best explain any observed change in mode choice over this period. The findings of these analyses provide a benchmark against which to evaluate the effects of the new commuter benefits program in a future study. This research finds that, from 2004 to 2014, there are significant shifts in mode choice among employees commuting to and from MIT's Cambridge main campus (e.g., public transportation mode share grew from 35% to 43%). This coincided with MIT's need to convert parking dedicated land for new research and academic use. In order to explain this change, this thesis studies trends in a range of employee demographic characteristics and transportation benefits pricing characteristics for the ten-year period. This research finds that while certain employee demographic characteristics are correlated with measures of mode choice, these demographics have not changed dramatically over the decade and, therefore, pricing characteristics and exogenous factors most likely explain most of the observed shifts in employee commuting behavior to and from campus across years. The findings of this thesis provide evidence in support of continued use of transportation pricing incentives as a means to influence employee mode choice and reduce parking demand. Finally, this research highlights a list of likely outcomes of MIT's new Access MIT initiative and evaluates the applicability of this thesis' findings to other urban employers, especially in high growth districts.
Thesis: S.M. in Transportation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 90-91).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.