Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Economics and Finance
Department name when degree awarded
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responsible for planning, operating, and maintaining a highway network consisting of over 18,500 lane-miles of highway. In recent years the growing uncertainty about oil prices and availability has made long-range transportation planning even more challenging. Rather than relying on trend extrapolation, this study uses market mechanisms to shed light on key long-range transportation planning assumptions. In particular, this study was conducted to help WSDOT assess the likelihood that natural gas will substitute for petroleum fuels and estimate the impacts that changes in fuel prices will have on natural gas vehicle demand, fuel consumption, and Greenhouse Gas emissions. The main findings of this project were that there is an unstable price difference per unit of energy between natural gas and oil. This price difference accounts for the relative attractiveness of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Furthermore, an international market for natural gas is emerging due to the international trade in liquefied natural gas. Despite these potential benefits the market has created for the use of natural gas as transportation fuel, our model still predicts that consumers will not adopt natural gas vehicles. Due to the low adoption of natural gas vehicles, pollution abatement policies designed around increasing adoption of natural gas vehicles is likely to be very expensive.
Barnes, Ryan N., "Essays on the Economics of Energy and Transportation" (2017). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 5653.