Policy Equity, Acceptance & Compliance

Mobility is a highly regulated human activity. The range of urban transport policies reflects varying and often conflicting values about efficiency, fairness, acceptance, and the limits of government control. The success of a transport policy hinges on its compatibility with the behavioral responses from the public and context-specific social norms and social goals. JTL attempts 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.

Bidding to Drive: Car License Auction Policy in Shanghai and Its Public Acceptance, Chen, Xiaojie, and Zhao Jinhua , 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...

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

A high level of non-compliance with policies aimed to protect common pool resources necessitates investigation into motivations behind compliance so that policies could be tailored to raise compliance level. Compliance with such protection policies of common pool resources such as car control policies instituted in Chinese cities aimed to reduce congestion and pollution is critical to ensuring sustainable development. In 1994 Shanghai instituted a monthly license plate auction policy to...

Morality vs. Legitimacy: Why do the Chinese Obey the Law, Gao, Jingkang, and Zhao Jinhua , Law and Human Behavior, (Submitted)

Social scientists and legal scholars have long approached understanding the rule of law in China through history, traditions, and cultural attributes. We take an empirical and individual-based rather than normative and aggregate approach in this paper. We implement a questionnaire survey of 1,000 drivers in Shanghai in March 2016 to explore compliance with a wide range of laws from long-established laws such as those inhibiting public disturbance and traffic violations to laws necessitated...

The Distributional Effects of Lotteries and Auctions —License Plate Regulations in Guangzhou, Wang, Shenhao, and Zhao Jinhua , Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, (Submitted)

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...

An Urban Agenda for Autonomous Vehicles: Embedding Planning Principles into Technological Deployment, Freemark, Yonah, and Zhao Jinhua , Working paper, (2017)


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...

The Formation of a Transport Policy Market in China: From Policy Transfer to Policy Mobility, Zhao, Jinhua, and Wang Zhongyue , 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....

Modeling Saliency in Transportation Pricing: Optimal Mixture of Automobile Management Policies, Michel, Alyona, and Zhao Jinhua , 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...

Reducing Subway Crowding: Analysis of an Off-peak Discount Experiment in Hong Kong, Halvorsen, Anne, Koutsopoulos Haris, and Zhao Jinhua , 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...

Gaining Acceptance by Informing the People? Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Acceptance of Transportation Policies, Li, Menghan, and Zhao Jinhua , Journal of Planning Education and Research, Washington, D.C., (Submitted)

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...

Traffic Law Compliance by Chinese Drivers: Demographics and Motivations, Gao, Jingkang, and Zhao Jinhua , 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...

Superficial Fairness of Transportation Policies: Case of Beijing’s Car License Lottery, Zhao, Jinhua, and Wang Shenhao , Working paper, (2017)

Problem, Research Strategy, and Findings 
“Fairness,” though commonly invoked as an evaluative metric in transportation policy, remains an ambiguous concept. This paper provides a three-layer framework for assessing the fairness of transportation policies. The first layer differentiates substantive, perceived, and procedural fairness; the second layer concerns the concrete rules of assessing these three aspects; the third layer concerns the categorization of people. The framework also...

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
Jeffrey Rosenblum's picture
PhD Candidate
Shenhao Wang's picture
PhD Student
Jinhua Zhao's picture
Edward H. and Joyce Linde Assistant Professor