Public Transit and Air Pollution

41 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2017

See all articles by Nicholas Rivers

Nicholas Rivers

University of Ottawa - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Soodeh Saberian

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics

Brandon Schaufele

University of Western Ontario - Richard Ivey School of Business

Date Written: October 9, 2017

Abstract

Advocates of public transit frequently tout improved air quality as a primary benefit. Yet little is known about the causal impacts of public transit on local air pollution. Exploiting variation in transit availability resulting from work stoppages in 18 Canadian cities between 1974-2011, this study identifies the effect of public transit on air pollution. Our findings indicate that transit leads to a 3.5 part-per-billion increase in nitrogen oxides while having no statistically significant effect on carbon monoxide or fine particulate matter. Estimates are robust to a series of specification and placebo tests and magnitudes are consistent with a calibrated simulation model. Overall, the results suggest that expanding the current configuration of public transit in North American cities is unlikely to yield improvements in local air quality.

Keywords: public transit, air pollution

JEL Classification: R40, Q53, C54

Suggested Citation

Rivers, Nicholas and Saberian, Soodeh and Schaufele, Brandon, Public Transit and Air Pollution (October 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3049945 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3049945

Nicholas Rivers (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

75 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

Soodeh Saberian

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics

Social Sciences Building Room 9005
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

Brandon Schaufele

University of Western Ontario - Richard Ivey School of Business ( email )

1151 Richmond Street North
London, Ontario N6A 3K7
Canada

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