Search the USF Web site Site Map USF home page


Center Identification Number:  77722   


Project Title:  Exploration of a Shift in Household Transportation Spending from Vehicles to Public Transportation  


Co-Principal Investigators:


Steve Polzin

Phone: 813-974-9849



Xuehao Chu, Senior Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9831




Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168


External Project Contact:     


Tara Bartee

Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning





I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement


Despite continued public support of transit over the last several decades, traffic congestion continues to get worse and transit ridership and service levels have grown but not sufficiently to play a meaningful roll in addressing growing travel demands and congestion levels. As a result, interest continues in exploring how significant service increases might provide adequate transit capacity and sufficiently attractive service levels to attract enough ridership to offset the need of households for the current number of vehicles. Similarly, might the resources saved by households with fewer autos represent a sufficient consumer benefit to justify or offset the higher subsidy costs necessary to provide the enhanced services? The literature currently offers little insight into this issue.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

This study proposes to explore several data sets to develop an understanding of the economic and travel implications that might arise were households to reduce auto ownership in response to better transit service in an urban area. Using several existing data sets including: BLS consumer expenditure survey data, NHTS travel data, NTD transit cost data and perhaps other data on vehicle ownership and cost, this research will provide information to support policy discussions that consider development of more transit intensive urban environments with the expectation that these transit service investments can pay dividends in terms of lower household vehicle ownership and use costs. The results are expected to add a very helpful perspective with regard to the potential and economics of programs that propose more transit friendly and transit intensive urban environments. The following tasks are proposed.

Task 1. Average Costs

This task will explore changes in household vehicle ownership costs over time and across geographies. The objective is to develop an understanding of cost differences in an attempt to correlate with vehicle availability and household size characteristics.

Task 2. Marginal Costs

This task will explore marginal vehicle ownership costs for subsequent vehicles in a household. This will evaluate the cost and the relative use of second and subsequent vehicles per household. Seek out data that might provide insight into how travel previously made in a second or subsequent vehicle would be redistributed as vehicle ownership levels were reduced. See if any Canadian and European data can shed light on household transportation spending or personal vehicle travel versus public transportation in more public transportation intensive environments.

Task 3. Scenario Analysis

This task will develop scenarios to test the economic and market reasonableness of transit intensive scenarios that include lower household vehicle ownership costs and higher levels of public transportation service. Scenarios will be developed where one could contrast household savings for various lower rates of auto ownership against the public cost for better transit service and the probable diversion of travel demand to public transit against the capacity and service improvements in transit that might be afforded by various levels of shifting household auto ownership costs to public transportation service investments.

Task 4. Progress Reports and Final Report

This task will synthesize research findings into a final report and a publishable paper for wider dissemination.

III. Deliverables

Progress Reports
Progress reports will be submitted on a monthly basis to the Research Center for processing. The first progress report will become due 30 days after a Notice to Proceed is issued to the consultant by the Department. They may be sent in MS Word format to Sandra Bell, Contracts Administrator at

Progress reports must include the following information:

1) Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title
2) Work performed during the month
3) Work to be performed in the following month
4) Requested modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope) *see separate instructions for requesting approval of modifications
5) An updated Exhibit “D” Progress Schedule.

Draft Final Reports
The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be the Principal Investigator’s responsibility (the author or a designated party may perform the review). It is expected that a well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. Reports failing to meet this requirement will summarily be rejected. The only changes allowable between the draft final report and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and the Research Center.

Final Reports
A minimum of 13 copies of the final report will be delivered to: The Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450. A camera ready unbound original, and an electronic copy in MS Word format on CD no later than the end date of the RWPO.

One electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final Report to include the following four sections: Background, Objectives and Supporting Tasks, Finding and Conclusions, and the Benefit of the Project. The Summary shall be a separate document and should be approximately 500 words in length.

All Final Reports shall contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page. All Final Reports published shall contain a page after the Report Documentation Form that states the following:

1) The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation, or the U.S. Department of Transportation.
2) Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

All Final Reports should be bound with a front and back cover that is acceptable to the Department.


IV.  Project Schedule


RESEARCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Task 1                                    
Average Costs   100%                                
Task 2                                    
Marginal Costs   8% 54% 100%                            
Task 3                                    
Scenario Analysis   8% 17% 63% 100%                          
Task 4                                    
Final Report   5% 15% 26%   73% 100%                      



V.  Project Budget


Exploration of a Shift in Household Transportation Spending from Vehicles to Public Transportation

Budget Categories


Center Director Salary


Faculty Salaries

$ 23,246

Admin. Staff Salaries


Other Staff Salaries


Student Salaries

$   8,320 

Staff Benefits

Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 31,566



Permanent Equipment


Expendable Property/Supplies

$     252

Domestic Travel


Foreign Travel


Other Direct Costs


Total Direct Costs

$ 31,818

Indirect Costs

$   3,182

Total Costs

$ 35,000


Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.


VI. Equipment

No equipment is envisioned to be purchased under this project.

VII. Travel

No travel is required.

VIII. Student Involvement

A graduate research assistant will carry out much of the work under the direction of the PI.


National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: