Modeling traveler responses to alternative gasoline allocation plans

Joel Horowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper describes a modeling technique for estimating responses of urban travelers to gasoline shortages under three different procedures for allocating scarce gasoline supplies. The allocation procedures are: allow the price of gasoline to rise to a market clearing level, allocate gasoline by means of white-market coupons, and allocate gasoline by means of traditional rationing. The modeling technique is based on a system of disaggregate travel demand models and provides for representation of non-price restraints on gasoline consumption (e.g. traditional rationing) and for changes in multi-destination travel, as well as for changes in gasoline prices and in modes, destinations and frequencies of travel. The application of the modeling technique is illustrated by using it to estimate the effects of a gasoline shortage in the Washington, D.C., area. The results of this application indicate that in all allocation procedures tested, reductions in non-work trip frequencies and lengths are the main sources of gasoline savings in the presence of shortages. Transit improvements and carpool incentives moderate but do not prevent the effects of shortages on non-work travel. In price-based allocation methods, including allocation by means of white-market coupons, the reductions in travel that accompany a gasoline shortage are considerably larger among low-income households than they are among high-income ones. This distribution of effects is reversed when non-price-based allocation is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalTransportation Research Part A: General
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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