Friday, November 6, 2009

E-Z Pass and Infant Health -- Keep the Traffic Moving and Improve Health!

I have devoted years of research and teaching to transportation, logistics, and networks, and the associated methodologies that can help in forecasting traffic flows and, what economists call negative externalities, which, in the case of traffic, include both congestion as well as pollution.

My two books that focus specifically on environmental issues are: Sustainable Transportation Networks and Environmental Networks: A Framework for Economic Decision-Making and Policy Analysis, the latter co-authored with K. K. Dhanda and P. Ramanujam. These two books develop a spectrum of models and associated analytics that can be applied to identify a priori the impacts (both cost-wise and environmental-wise) of changes to networks in the form of design changes or policies. These books also discuss paradoxes that arise in transportation and emphasize how important it is to capture the actual behavior of drivers, firms, etc.

A National Bureau of Economic Research study, Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-Z Pass, by Janet Currie and Reed Walker, which was just released, concludes that reductions in traffic congestion generated by E-Z Pass reduced the incidence of prematurity and low birth weight among mothers within 2km of a toll plaza by 10.8% and 11.8% respectively. This is a terrific example of transportation technology in the form of electronic tolls having a direct, positive impact on community health.

Our most recent paper on transportation and environmental issues shows the impacts of road condition deterioration on environmental pollution. The paper, Environmental Impact Assessment of Transportation Networks with Degradable Links in an Era of Climate Change, is forthcoming in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation.