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Task Force

TRACE-Final Summary Report

Evidence on car cost and car time elasticities of travel demand in Europe

Project Coordinator:

Hague Consulting Group


ARPA Heusch Boesefeldt Stratec Université de Cergy-Pontoise
30 June 1999


1. Partnership TRACE is a comprehensive research programme, carried out by a consortium of European consultants and Universities:

  • ARPA from Italy
  • Hague Consulting Group from the Netherlands (coordinator)
  • Heusch/Boesefeldt from Germany
  • Stratec from Belgium
  • the University of Cergy-Pontoise from France,

    which started in January 1998 with the financial support of the European Commission (DGVII). The project was completed end of June 1999.

    2. Objectives of the project The objectives of TRACE are:

  • to understand and to demonstrate the relationship between travel costs and time and the demand for car travel, both in short and long term;

  • to produce a comprehensive review of empirical and modelling evidence of time and cost elasticities and value of time for both short and long term futures;

  • to produce an easy to use Elasticity Handbook to include values for elasticities for a range of 'prototypical contexts', for an assessment of first order impacts on car travel demand at different planning levels.

    3. Technical description

    In order to achieve these objectives, a large-scale review of available evidence concerning elasticities of private car travel demand with respect to time and cost changes was carried out.

    After this, the theoretical structure which forms the foundation for the elasticity concept, was presented, with special attention to the issue of the dimension of reaction time to changes in travel times and cost. At the same time, sets of representative contexts ('prototypical contexs') for which elasticities would ultimately be calculated or deduced were designed.

    New runs with national (the Netherlands, Italy) and regional (Brussels) traffic models have been carried out to yield more evidence on private road time and cost elasticities in many different contexts.

    On the basis of the elasticities from the literature and the model runs, the consortium developed the Elasticity handbook and a sketch planning model, rooted in the existing traffic models, which can be used to yield elasticities in a fast and user-friendly way for contexts not covered by existing traffic models. The name of this programme is TRACER. TRACER can easily be used for sensitivity tests: many different changes (e.g. in travel cost or time) can be evaluated in a few seconds.

    TRACER and the Elasticity Handbook form the final products of the TRACE project.

    4. Results and conclusions

    From the findings in the TRACE project, the following main conclusions can be drawn:

  • In the literature in Europe since 1985 almost all elasticities have been derived using some kind of modelling; elasticities which follow directly from empirical observations (e.g. before and after a change in prices or travel times) are virtually absent.

  • In our view for most countries in Eastern Europe no material on elasticities of travel demand and/or value of travel time exists.

  • In general, the average elasticities from the literature review and the runs with the 3 models (the NMS for the Netherlands, the Italian National Model and the Brussels model) show a broadly similar pattern.

  • A 10% change in car time has a bigger impact on trips and kilometres than a 10% change in car cost.

  • The short term elasticities of car kilometrage are on average more or less 50% of the long run counterparts.

  • The cross elasticities of the kilometres travelled by public transport are somewhat higher for the short run than for the long run, because of the destination choice effect that only occurs in the long run.

    As part of the TRACE project two tools were produced which national and regional authorities can use for a first order assessment of the effects on travel demand of changes in fuel prices, car travel times, road pricing and parking charges:

  • The Elasticity Handbook, which contains 41 tables with elasticity values;

  • The PC programme TRACER contains a databank with many thousands of elasticity values (short and long run impact on trips and kilometres, with a segmentation by mode, purpose, distance class, urbanisation, parking class and public transport quality). Which segments will be relevant and the relative importance of the segments depends on the distribution of trips in a specific country over the segments. TRACER is a fast and user-friendly programme, which also contains a Wizard to create a situation (distribution of trips over the segments) which will give a reasonable approximation of the specific country or region that a user wants to study. This Wizard asks a number of questions to the user (e.g. mode split, GDP, car ownership) and then builds up the appropriate distribution of trips over the segments. After this TRACER can read in the elasticities for these segments and weight these according to the number of trips in each segment. The outputs of TRACER are tables and graphs of the elasticity values and the changes in the number of trips or kilometres.

    5. Collaboration sought

    For the testing the TRACER collaboration with Universities in Europe is sought. A limited version of TRACER will be made available for Universities free of charge, to be used for general testing. A specific researcher at a University is sought for thorough beta-testing of the full TRACER (which will also be made available to this researcher free of charge). No further collaboration is sought.

    6. Exploitation and dissemination plans

    The strategy for exploitation, dissemination and communication consists of writing conference papers and journal articles, building a TRACE website, writing a brochure on TRACE, joint meetings with other projects and letting Universities test TRACER, with the possibility of marketing and selling TRACER after that.

    7. List of contact persons

    1. Heusch Boesefeldt
    N. Grosch
    Liebigstrasse 20
    D-52070 Aachen
    Phone: + 49 241 9669 112
    Fax: + 49 241 9669 155
    E-mail: (email removed)

    2. Stratec
    H. Duchateau/S.Gayda
    Blvd. A. Reyers 156/187
    B-1040 Bruxelles
    Phone: + 32 2 735 0995
    Fax: + 32 2 735 4917
    E-mail: (email removed)
    (email removed)

    3. Arpa
    Prof. L. Biggierro/P. Coppola
    Via Partenope 36
    I-80121 ITALY
    Phone: + 39 81 7683351
    Fax: + 39 81 5939118
    E-mail: (email removed)
    (email removed)

    4. Université de Cergy Pontoise
    Prof. A. de Palma/E. de Villemeur
    Département des Sciences Economiques
    33, Bd du Port
    F-95011 Cergy Pontoise
    Phone: + 33 134 25 61 81
    Fax: + 33 134 25 62 33
    E-mail: (email removed)
    (email removed)

    5. Hague Consulting Group (coordinator)
    Dr. G.C. de Jong
    Surinamestraat 4
    2585 GJ Den Haag,
    Phone: + 31 70 346 94 26
    Fax: + 31 70 346 44 20
    E-mail: (email removed)

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