Modeling the Effect of New Commuter Bus Service on Demand and Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Application to Greater Boston

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bike, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit, mode - car, mode - ferry, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, mode - carpool, economics - capital costs, economics - operating costs, technology - emissions, ridership - demand, ridership - mode choice, operations - frequency


greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mode choice, commuting, capital cost, operating cost


The transportation sector is considered one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in metropolitan areas. Any efforts to reduce these emissions require strategic management of multiple transportation modes. This paper presents a method to identify opportunities to reduce GHG emissions by expanding commuter bus services and providing incentives to shift commuters from private cars to transit. The approach uses a nested multinomial logit model for mode choice in a region where modes include driving alone, carpooling, walking, cycling, and using four possible transit modes (ferry, commuter rail, rapid transit, and bus) by walk-access or drive-access. A model of existing conditions was calibrated with data from the Boston metropolitan area. Using an emission factor model based on average speeds from the California Air Resources Board, the net effect of a new commuter bus service on GHG emissions from transportation is estimated. Potential GHG reductions are weighed against the capital and operating costs of new transit services to quantify the cost-effectiveness of new commuter bus services for isolated origin-destination pairs. This modeling framework is used to optimize fares and bus frequency to identify the corridors with the most cost-effective potential for GHG reduction. Results are presented for the Boston region, demonstrating the feasibility of implementation and the potential magnitude of benefits for cost-effectively reducing GHG emissions associated with transportation. The method is general and can be applied in other cities around the world.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.