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Cutting the maximum speed on roads and lowering rail fares only reduces fuel consumption by 2-3% (A.Matas, J.Asensio and A.Gómez-Lobo)


The measures implemented by the Spanish government in 2011 to reduce fuel consumption fell well short of their stated objectives of cutting gasoline use by 15% and diesel use by 11%. Cutting the maximum speed on motorways from 120 to 110 km/h and lowering rail fares by 5% (on local and regional lines) reduced fuel consumption by between just 2 and 3%. The third measure implemented, increasing the fuel biodiesel content by 7%, actually increased gasoline consumption. These are the findings of a study of the Barcelona Economics Institute (Infrastructure and Transport Research Programme) undertaken by Anna Matas (UAB and IEB), Javier Asensio (UAB and IEB) and Andres Gomez-Lobo (University of Chile).

The study How effective are policies to reduce gasoline consumption? Evaluating a quasi-natural experiment in Spain provides an empirical analysis of the impact of policies implemented as part of an energy saving plan to reduce fuel consumption in Spain between March and June 2011. To carry out the study, the authors drew on monthly consumption data for 48 provinces throughout the country over a four-year period. The analysis has revealed that cutting speed on motorways and highways led to a reduction in consumption of between 2 and 3%, while it has been unable to detect any effect of lowering rail fares. Finally, the data show that for every 1% increase in the biofuel content of gasoline, gasoline consumption increases by between 0.3 and 0.7%.

Read the study here


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