Policy Equity, Acceptance & Compliance

Mobility is a highly regulated human activity. Distinguishing demands arise from different social groups, interacting with service providers, through layers of policies in the complex urban system. The range of urban transport policies reflects varying and often conflicting values about efficiency, fairness, acceptance, and the limits of government control.

At JTL, we argue that the success of transport policies hinge on their compatibility with behavioral responses from the public and context-specific social norms and social goals. Successful policies must respond to users’ needs, enhance target groups’ mobility, or incentify behavioral change. At JTL, we attempt to make these normative foundations of transport policies explicit and assess whether policies actually achieve these aspirations. We emphasize the importance of three closely linked policy parameters: public perception of fairness, policy acceptance, and policy compliance.

Measuring policy leakage of Beijing’s car ownership restriction, Yunhan Zheng, Joanna Moody, Shenhao Wang, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, (2021)

In response to severe traffic congestion and air pollution, Beijing introduced a car ownership restriction policy to curb growth in the number of private cars in the city. However, Beijing residents can still purchase and register their cars in neighboring cities and this “leakage” may substantially reduce the policy’s effectiveness. Using city-level data collected from the CEIC China Premium Database, we aim to quantify the spill-over effect: the impact of Beijing’s policy on the growth of...

Measuring Policy Leakage of Beijing's Car Ownership Restriction in Neighboring Cities, Yunhan Zheng, Joanna Moody, Shenhao Wang, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 99th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2020)

Beijing's license plate lottery policy was originally designed to curb the growth of local vehicle population. However, the avoidance behaviors such as local residents registering their cars in neighboring cities offsets the policy effect. Using the city-level data collected from the CEIC China Premium Database, this study quantitatively identifies the causal effect of the implementation of Beijing's car ownership restriction policy on the growth of private vehicles in neighboring cities. We...

Behavioral Response to Discounted Fares for Low-income Transit Riders in Boston, Jeffrey Laurence Rosenblum, Jinhua Zhao, Arcaya Mariana, and Steil Justin , Transportation Research Board 99th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2020)

As public transit agencies across the United States raise fares, transit affordability has emerged a salient equity issue on the political agenda. With few exceptions, transit agencies do not provide means-tested discounts for low-income riders (federal policy only mandates senior and disability discounts). Our research investigates how the cost of public transit influences transit use and access to goods and services among low-income riders, and whether a low-income fare policy instrument...

Aptitudes for Regulating Autonomous Vehicles: A Survey of Municipal Officials, Yonah Freemark, Anne Hudson, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 99th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2020)

Local governments play an important role in urban transportation through street management, zoning, right-of-way apportionment, and shared jurisdiction over ride-hailing, transit, and road pricing. While cities can harness these powers to steer the development of new transportation technologies, there is little research about what local officials think about making autonomous vehicle (AV)-related policy changes. We compile key AV-related transportation policies and conduct a large survey of...

What prompts the adoption of car restriction policies among Chinese cities, Shenhao Wang, Joanna Moody, and Jinhua Zhao , International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, (2020)

Facing rapid motorization, many Chinese municipalities are implementing policies that restrict car ownership or use. However, there is significant variation in terms of which cities adopt these policies and when. This research systematically investigates what factors prompt local governments in China to adopt these car restriction policies. We collect a database of car restriction policies as well as economic, demographic, land use, and transportation indicators for 287 Chinese...

Gender, Social Interaction, and Mobility Sharing, Hongmou Zhang, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 98th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2019)

In this paper we answered three questions: 1) Does social interaction in mobility sharing impact the usage and satisfaction level with it? 2) Is there gender deference in considering social interaction as motivation or deterrent for mobility sharing? 3) Is there gender difference in the usage and satisfaction with mobility sharing services. With a survey (n=997) in the U.S. cities where Uber or Lyft is available, we combined data of sociodemographic variables, social interaction indicators,...

Are cities prepared for autonomous vehicles? Planning for technological change by U.S. local governments, Yonah Freemark, Anne Hudson, and Jinhua Zhao , Journal of the American Planning Association, (2019)


Problem, Research Strategy, and Findings: Local government policies could impact how autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is deployed. This paper examines how municipalities are planning for AVs, identifies local characteristics that are associated with preparation, and describes what impacts bureaucrats expect from the vehicles. We review existing plans of the United States’ 25 largest cities and survey transportation and planning officials from 120 cities, representative of all...

Transportation Policy Profiles of Chinese City Clusters: A Mixed Method Approach, Joanna Moody, Shenhao Wang, Jungwoo Chun, Xuenan Ni, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, (2019)

Chinese cities have experienced diverse urbanization and motorization trends that present distinct challenges for municipal transportation policymaking. However, there is no systematic understanding of the unique motorization and urbanization trends of Chinese cities and how physical characteristics map to their transportation policy priorities. We adopt a mixed-method approach to address this knowledge gap. We conduct a time-series clustering of 287 Chinese cities using eight indicators of...

Transportation Policymaking in Beijing and Shanghai: Contributors, Obstacles, and Process, Jungwoo Chun, Joanna Moody, and Jinhua Zhao , Case Studies on Transport Policy, (2019)

With continued motorization and urbanization in Chinese cities, there is a growing demand for innovative transportation policies at the city level to address the challenges of congestion, local air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Using Beijing and Shanghai as case studies, this paper draws on 32 in-depth semi-structured interviews with municipal government officials, academics, and transportation professionals to explore the city-level transportation policymaking process in Chinese...

An Urban Agenda for Autonomous Vehicles: Embedding Planning Principles into Technological Deployment, Yonah Freemark, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2018)

The deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) has spawned a considerable literature on the role of national and state-level governments in regulating components of AV manufacturing, emissions, safety, licensing, and data sharing. These provide insight into how AVs can be integrated into the current transportation system. Yet the potential for local governments to shape their futures through AV policies is underexplored. This paper argues that it is both necessary and feasible for...

Legitimacy vs morality: Why do the Chinese obey the law?, Jingkang Gao, and Jinhua Zhao , Law and Human Behavior, Volume 42, Issue 2, (2018)

This study explored two aspects of the rule of law in China: (1) motivations for compliance with 4 groups of everyday laws and regulations and (2) determinants of the legitimacy of legal authorities. We applied a structural equations model, constructed from Tyler’s conceptual process-based self-regulation model with morality added as a motivation, to online questionnaire responses from 1,000 Shanghai drivers. We explored the compliance with four particular groups of laws: public disturbance...

Traffic Law Compliance by Chinese Drivers: Demographics and Motivations, Jingkang Gao, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting, (2017)

Research on Chinese traffic law compliance is lacking compared to the West. Yet it is increasingly important because of explosive recent growth of cars in China. Although demographic attributes such as age and gender and certain driver characteristics such as experience and annual mileage have been studied in regard to traffic law compliance, normative and instrumental motivations for compliance have not been thoroughly studied. Normative motivations specifically have not been fully...

Distributional Effects of Lotteries and Auctions —License Plate Regulations in Guangzhou, Shenhao Wang, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 11/2017, Volume 106, p.473–483, (2017)

Lotteries and auctions are common ways of allocating public resources, but they have rarely been used simultaneously in urban transportation policies. This paper presents a unique policy experiment in Guangzhou, China, where lotteries and auctions are used in conjunction to allocate vehicle licenses. Guangzhou introduced vehicle license regulations to control the monthly quota of local automobile growth in 2012. To obtain a license, residents are required to choose between the lottery and...

Worse than Baumol's disease: The implications of labor productivity, contracting out, and unionization on transit operation costs, Javier Morales-Sarriera, Frederick Salvucci, and Jinhua Zhao , Transport Policy, 10/2017, Volume 61, p.10-16, (2017)

Unit costs measured as bus operating costs per vehicle mile have increased considerably above the inflation rate in recent decades in most transit agencies in the United States. This paper examines the impact of (lack of) productivity growth, union bargaining power, and contracting out on cost escalation. We draw from a 17-year (1997–2014) and a 415-bus transit agency panel with 5780 observations by type of operation (directly operated by the agency or contracted out). We have three main...

Gaining Acceptance by Informing the People? Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Acceptance of Transportation Policies, Menghan Li, and Jinhua Zhao , Journal of Planning Education and Research, 09/2017, (2017)

We examine the connection between public knowledge and attitudes in the context of urban transportation policies. We categorize policy knowledge into received, subjective, and reasoned knowledge, and measure them empirically using a survey of Shanghai’s residents (n=1,000) on the vehicle license auction policy. We quantify the relationship between the three types of knowledge and public acceptance and its predecessors (perceived effectiveness, affordability, and equity). We find variegated...

Reducing Subway Crowding: Analysis of an Off-peak Discount Experiment in Hong Kong, Anne Halvorsen, Haris Koutsopoulos, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., (2016)

Increases in ridership are outpacing capacity expansions in a number of transit systems. By shifting their focus to demand management, agencies can instead influence how customers use the system, getting more out of the capacity they already have. This paper uses Hong Kong's MTR system as a case study to explore the effects of crowding-reduction strategies as well as methods to use automatically collected fare data to support these measures. MTR introduced a pre-peak discount in September...

Normative and Image Motivations for Compliance with Sustainable Transportation Policy, Jingkang Gao, and Jinhua Zhao , Urban Studies, (2016)

Compliance with laws and regulations intended to protect common pool resources in the urban context is essential in tackling problems such as pollution and congestion. A high level of non-compliance necessitates an investigation into motivations behind compliance. The long-held instrumental theory emphasising the dependence of compliance on tangible deterrence measures fails to adequately explain empirical findings. More recently...
Modeling Saliency in Transportation Pricing: Optimal Mixture of Automobile Management Policies, Alyona Michel, and Jinhua Zhao , Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2015)

We introduce the advantage of behavioral economics into the transportation policy evaluation criteria that traditional economic approaches do not consider. To that end, we present a framework for using tax salience as a connection between the dimensions of government policy objectives (revenue, behavior change, and public acceptance) with tax instruments (car ownership charge, fuel tax, congestion tax, parking fee) meant to influence behavior. Salience is the psychological effect of paying...

The Formation of a Transport Policy Market in China: From Policy Transfer to Policy Mobility, Jinhua Zhao, and Zhongyue Wang , Transportation Research Board 93rd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., (2014)

Policy travel, a series of processes in which policies are transmitted and, possibly, mutated through a network of policy-making sites, plays an important role in China’s rapid transportation development. This paper examines the Chinese transport policy market framework: its formation, components and transactions. The study is based on 30in-depth interviews with politicians, technicians and academics involved in transport policy and 14 transportation policies discussed in 11 Chinese cities....

Lotteries vs. Auctions: China’s Experiments in Managing Automobile Growth, David Block-Schachter, and Jinhua Zhao , Asia Pacific Memo, Number 4 April 2015, Vancouver, (2013)

The astronomical growth in the number of private cars in China has led to very visible environmental crises and congestion. But the nationwide increase conceals crucial policy differences between cities that influence effectiveness, revenue, efficiency, equity and public acceptance.  While Shanghai and Beijing each had approximately 2 million motor vehicles in 2004, by 2010 Beijing had 4.8 million versus Shanghai’s 3.1 million.  By 2011, 38% of Beijing households were vehicle owners in...

Bidding to Drive: Car License Auction Policy in Shanghai and Its Public Acceptance, Xiaojie Chen, and Jinhua Zhao , Transport Policy, Volume 27, p.39–53, (2012)

Increased automobile ownership and use in China over the last two decades has increased energy consumption, worsened air pollution, and exacerbated congestion. However, the countrywide growth in car ownership conceals great variation among cities. For example, Shanghai and Beijing each had about 2 million motor vehicles in 2004, but by 2010, Beijing had 4.8 million motor vehicles whereas Shanghai had only 3.1 million. Among the factors contributing to this divergence is Shanghai’s vehicle...

Team Member

Jungwoo Chun's picture
PhD Student
Yonah Freemark's picture
PhD Candidate
Jake Gao's picture
MST Student
Menghan Li's picture
MST Student
Joanna Moody's picture
Research Scientist
Javier Morales Sarriera's picture
Neema Nassir's picture
Assistant Professor at University of Melbourne
Jeffrey Rosenblum's picture
PhD Candidate
Shenhao Wang's picture
Postdoctoral Associate
Annie Hudson's picture
Rachel Luo's picture
MCP/MST Student
Jinhua Zhao's picture
Edward H. and Joyce Linde Associate Professor