Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor


Committee Chair


Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2


Committee Member 3



Personal transport is a leading contributor to fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse (GHG) emissions in the U.S. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that light-duty vehicles (LDV) are responsible for 61\% of all transportation related energy consumption in 2012, which is equivalent to 8.4 million barrels of oil (fossil fuel) per day. The carbon content in fossil fuels is the primary source of GHG emissions that links to the challenge associated with climate change. Evidently, it is high time to develop actionable and innovative strategies to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions from the road transportation networks. This dissertation integrates the broader goal of minimizing energy and emissions into the transportation planning process using novel systems modeling approaches. This research aims to find, investigate, and evaluate strategies that minimize carbon-based fuel consumption and emissions for a transportation network. We propose user and system level strategies that can influence travel decisions and can reinforce pro-environmental attitudes of road users. Further, we develop strategies that system operators can implement to optimize traffic operations with emissions minimization goal. To complete the framework we develop an integrated traffic-emissions (EPA-MOVES) simulation framework that can assess the effectiveness of the strategies with computational efficiency and reasonable accuracy. ^ The dissertation begins with exploring the trade-off between emissions and travel time in context of daily travel decisions and its heterogeneous nature. Data are collected from a web-based survey and the trade-off values indicating the average additional travel minutes a person is willing to consider for reducing a lb. of GHG emissions are estimated from random parameter models. Results indicate that different trade-off values for male and female groups. Further, participants from high-income households are found to have higher trade-off values compared with other groups. Next, we propose personal mobility carbon allowance (PMCA) scheme to reduce emissions from personal travel. PMCA is a market-based scheme that allocates carbon credits to users at no cost based on the emissions reduction goal of the system. Users can spend carbon credits for travel and a market place exists where users can buy or sell credits. This dissertation addresses two primary dimensions: the change in travel behavior of the users and the impact at network level in terms of travel time and emissions when PMCA is implemented. To understand this process, a real-time experimental game tool is developed where players are asked to make travel decisions within the carbon budget set by PMCA and they are allowed to trade carbon credits in a market modeled as a double auction game. Random parameter models are estimated to examine the impact of PMCA on short-term travel decisions. Further, to assess the impact at system level, a multi-class dynamic user equilibrium model is formulated that captures the travel behavior under PMCA scheme. The equivalent variational inequality problem is solved using projection method. Results indicate that PMCA scheme is able to reduce GHG emissions from transportation networks. Individuals with high value of travel time (VOTT) are less sensitive to PMCA scheme in context of work trips. High and medium income users are more likely to have non-work trips with lower carbon cost (higher travel time) to save carbon credits for work trips. ^ Next, we focus on the strategies from the perspectives of system operators in transportation networks. Learning based signal control schemes are developed that can reduce emissions from signalized urban networks. The algorithms are implemented and tested in VISSIM micro simulator. Finally, an integrated emissions-traffic simulator framework is outlined that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies. The integrated framework uses MOVES2010b as the emissions simulator. To estimate the emissions efficiently we propose a hierarchical clustering technique with dynamic time warping similarity measures (HC-DTW) to find the link driving schedules for MOVES2010b. Test results using the data from a five-intersection corridor show that HC-DTW technique can significantly reduce emissions estimation time without compromising the accuracy. The benefits are found to be most significant when the level of congestion variation is high. ^ In addition to finding novel strategies for reducing emissions from transportation networks, this dissertation has broader impacts on behavior based energy policy design and transportation network modeling research. The trade-off values can be a useful indicator to identify which policies are most effective to reinforce pro-environmental travel choices. For instance, the model can estimate the distribution of trade-off between emissions and travel time, and provide insights on the effectiveness of policies for New York City if we are able to collect data to construct a representative sample. The probability of route choice decisions vary across population groups and trip contexts. The probability as a function of travel and demographic attributes can be used as behavior rules for agents in an agent-based traffic simulation. Finally, the dynamic user equilibrium based network model provides a general framework for energy policies such carbon tax, tradable permit, and emissions credits system.