Abstract: Public transit in the U.S. is characterized by low quality and ridership compared to its global counterparts. This paper aims to understand the  provision of public transit in U.S. cities and whether the current fare structure can be redesigned to improve efficiency and equity. I develop a structural model of transit service demand and supply, with the demand side capturing commuters' travel mode choices and the supply side characterizing the decisions of transit managers regarding fare and service quality. Using a novel data set created from a fine level national household travel survey combined with data from Google Maps along with transit operation data, I estimate the model to recover urban commuters preferences on travel times, cost structure for supplying transit services, while taking into account transit manager's political or distributional preferences. The estimated parameters suggest that transit agencies, under financial constraints, prioritize lower-income and non-White populations in their decisions. Counterfactual simulations show that means-tested pricing could more effectively address equity concerns without compromising efficiency gains. Furthermore, even in the absence of explicit means-testing, pricing models such as cross-modal subsidization and zone-based transit fares can achieve comparable distributional objectives, though these schemes differ in their specific distributional and welfare properties.

Presented at: Bank of Canada, North American Meeting of the Urban Economics Association (UEA), Annual Conference of Chinese Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, Northeast Workshop on Energy Policy and Environmental Economics, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) Annual Summer Conference

Charging Infrastructure and Consumer Incentives Drive Cross-Country Disparities in Electric Vehicle Adoption, with Shanjun Li, Muxi Yang, and Fan Zhang

Selected Media Coverage: The Economist, World Bank Blogs, CICER

Previously circulated as "The Global Diffusion of Electric Vehicles: Lessons from the First Decade", No 9882, Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank.

Abstract: Electrifying the transportation sector is key to reaching the goal of carbon neutrality. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the diffusion of passenger electric vehicles based on detailed data on model-level electric vehicle sales across the world from 2013 to 2020. Our analysis shows that the highly uneven electric vehicle penetration across countries is partly driven by cross-country variation in buyer incentives and, to a much greater degree, by the availability of charging infrastructure. Investment in charging infrastructure is much more cost effective than consumer purchase subsidies in promoting electric vehicle adoption. The findings highlight the importance of expanding charging infrastructure in the next phase of wider electric vehicle diffusion. 


Pass-Through of Electric Vehicle Subsidies: A Global Analysis, with Panle Barwick, Hyuk-soo Kwon, and Nahim Zahur. American Economic Association: Papers & Proceedings, 2023, 113: 323-28.

Abstract: We investigate the pass-through of electric vehicle (EV) subsidies in 13 countries that account for 95 percent of global EV sales from 2013 to 2020. Our results indicate high pass-through rates of 70-80 percent on average. Pass-through is highest for global firms that sell the same EV models across multiple countries, consistent with uniform pricing by these firms, as well as avoidance of third-party arbitrage. We find suggestive evidence that pass-through is higher for tax incentives than for direct consumer subsidies.

Decarbonizing Passenger Transportation in Developing Countries: Lessons and Perspectives, with Shanjun Li and Hui Zhou. Forthcoming at Regional Science and Urban Economics

Abstract: This paper examines the challenges and opportunities in decarbonizing the passenger road transportation sector by reviewing recent empirical evidence and drawing lessons for developing countries. It first identifies the advantages and disadvantages of various policy instruments to promote modal shifts and vehicle fuel efficiency, and then discusses the potential impacts of electrification and ridehailing in transportation decarbonization. While developing countries face formidable challenges in reducing carbon emissions from passenger transportation due to income and population growth, the paper argues that a unique window of opportunity exists to foster a culture of sustainable travel behavior by expanding public transit in combination with market-based pricing policies.


Regulation under Distortions: Evidence from an Energy Savings Program, with Wenjie Luo, and Lin Yang

Price Regulation Reform and Gasoline Demand in China, with Jing Li and Shanjun Li