Autos, transit and bicycles: Comparing the costs in large Chinese cities

Rui Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


This study compares the full costs of seven passenger modes in the large Chinese cities facing the difficult yet crucial choice among alternative passenger transportation systems. The seven modes are evaluated at varied traffic volumes in hypothetical radial and circumferential commuting corridors. Using detailed estimates of private and social costs, the full cost of each mode is minimized by optimizing infrastructure investment and operation plans. On all corridors and across different scenarios, commuting by one or more forms of bus transit or bicycle costs less than automobile or rail. Nonetheless, in circumferential corridors, rail can be almost as cost-effective as bus under certain conditions, and bicycle can be less cost-effective than bus in some cases. Unlike results from similar studies conducted in the US, automobile commuting does not cost less than bus transportation at low traffic volumes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalTransport Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Automobile
  • Bicycle
  • Chinese urban transport
  • Commuting corridors
  • Full-cost comparison
  • Transit


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