Alleviating Urban Traffic Congestion
256 pp., 6 x 9 in, 16 illus.
- Published: August 19, 2005
Argues that urban transport economists should be less preoccupied with congestion pricing as the way of alleviating urban traffic congestion and should devote more of their attention to the study of policies that operate at a more microscopic scale—the scale at which urban transport policy decisions are made.
In 2000, the average driver in US metropolitan areas endured 27 hours of traffic delays, a rise from 7 hours in 1980. In many other countries, traffic delays are considerably worse than in the United States, and in developing countries urban traffic congestion is increasing with alarming rapidity. For fifty years, economists have been advocating congestion pricing as the way to deal with urban traffic congestion; but today, even after some successes, congestion pricing is encountering considerable political resistance. The authors of Alleviating Urban Traffic Congestion advocate active consideration of more microscopic policies that attack the problem at the scale at which actual policy decisions are made. Microscopic models, rather than macroscopic models that are too simplified and too aggregated, they argue, will lead to the analysis of a wider and more creative range of policies, at least some of which should work well and be politically acceptable. After developing the themes of the book, the authors illustrate them by examining some areas of urban transport policy that have been neglected by the macroscopic approach. These include downtown parking policy, the encouragement of bicycling, the staggering of work hours by dominant employers, and the use by medium-sized cities of a "multimode" ticket that charges cars entering the city center a toll equal to the transit fare. The reorientation of urban transport analysis that they advocate will by no means eliminate traffic delays but should speed up the adoption of a richer, more flexible, and ultimately more effective set of policies to alleviate urban traffic congestion.
The book's combined analysis of parking and traffic is an important theoretical breakthrough. The results show how properly priced on-street parking can greatly reduce traffic congestion and produce substantial public revenue. This 'double dividend' from charging the right price for parking is exceptionally promising for both transportation and fiscal policy.
Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles
This book, coming just after the successful congestion pricing scheme in London, demonstrates the important contribution that transport economists can make to the study and solution of urban traffic problems, and not just through road pricing. Solving the parking dilemma may be at least as important, and the authors provide the analytical framework to tackle this and other problems. The book will be a stimulus for those working on urban congestion, and a reminder of the valuable contribution economists can make in imporving the urban environment.
David Newbery, Director of the Department of Applied Econoimcs, University of Cambridge
This book invites every transportation researcher to look at issues like parking and bicycling in new ways. The authors offer copious knowledge and fresh insights at every turn.
Kenneth Small, Professor of Economics University of California Irvine