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Total Cost of Motor-Vehicle Use

UCD-ITS-RP-96-05

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Suggested Citation:
Delucchi, Mark A. (1996) Total Cost of Motor-Vehicle Use. Access Magazine (8), 7 - 13

What costs are involved in motor vehicle transportation? Many people consider only the dollars they spend on cars, maintenance, repair, fuel, lubricants, tires, parts, insurance, parking, tolls, registration, and fees. But motor vehicles cost society much more than what drivers spend on explicitly priced goods and services.

Purpose Of A Social-Cost Analysis: Researchers use social-cost analyses to support many different purposes and policy positions. Some use them to argue that motor vehicles and gasoline are greatly underpriced; others, to downplay the need for drastic policy intervention.

By itself, a total social-cost analysis cannot say whether motor-vehicle use is good or bad, or better or worse than some alternative, or whether it is wise to tax gasoline, restrict automobile use, or travel in trains. Rather, such an analysis is just one of many factors that may enlighten the transportation debate.