Assistant Professor Lewis Lehe has won a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to study public transportation pricing.
CAREER awards, administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, are the NSF’s most prestigious form of support and recognition for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”
Lehe’s CAREER project will inform common policy choices about whether to charge prices for the use of certain transportation services and facilities, such as metering parking or fare-free transit. The research will extend models of road and transit systems to account for special considerations that arise when prices are added or removed, for example the difference in bus boarding times with and without fares. The project will also consider equity factors through simulations calibrated to represent real communities, to capture policy impacts across sociodemographic groups and income levels.
Researchers will also conduct surveys to understand people's attitudes towards alternative pricing strategies and will illuminate how people think about the fairness of transportation pricing. In addition, educational tasks complementary to the research will give civil engineering students experience in thinking rigorously about implementing real policies and make knowledge of transportation engineering more accessible. The research, education and outreach plans are tightly integrated, to further disseminate the impacts through active and interactive learning opportunities to broaden participation in STEM.
Lehe joined the CEE at Illinois faculty in 2018. He received his B.Phil. in Mathematics-Economics from University of Pittsburgh, an M.A. in Transport Economics from University of Leeds, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on transportation pricing, urban traffic, traffic theory and transportation economics.