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Policies to reduce traffic externalities in cities

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  • DE BORGER, Bruno
  • PROOST, Stef

Abstract

This paper considers various policy measures to reduce traffic externalities in cities, including externality-reducing investments, tolls, emission standards, low emission zones, and bypass capacity to guide traffic around the city center. Using a simple model that distinguishes local and through traffic, we study the optimal use of these instruments by an urban government that cares for the welfare of its inhabitants, and we compare the results with those preferred by a federal authority that takes into account the welfare of all road users. Our results include the following. First, compared to the federal social optimum, we show that the city government will over-invest in externality-reducing infrastructure whenever this infrastructure increases the generalized cost of transit traffic. Second, comparing emission standards and road tolls, we find that cities with a lot of commuters will favor tolls, even though from the federal perspective standards are better. Third, when implementing low emission zones, the urban government will set both the fee for non-compliance and the standard at a higher level than the federal government. Moreover, at sufficiently high transit levels the urban government will prefer imposing a toll instead of implementing a low emission zone. Fourth, if the city can toll the urban infrastructure, it will only invest in bypass capacity when it is allowed to earn extra toll revenues on the bypass that exceed investment costs. Although the paper focuses on non-congestion externalities, most insights also hold in the presence of congestion.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012013.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2012013

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Postal: Prinsstraat 13, B-2000 Antwerpen
Web page: https://www.uantwerp.be/en/faculties/applied-economic-sciences/
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Keywords: Externalities; Urban policy; Urban transport investment; Environment;

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  1. Parry, Ian W.H. & Walls, Margaret & Harrington, Winston, 2007. "Automobile Externalities and Policies," Discussion Papers dp-06-26, Resources For the Future.
  2. Brueckner, Jan K., 2002. "Network Structure and Airline Scheduling," Working Papers 02-0112, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
  3. Fullerton, Don & West, Sarah E., 2002. "Can Taxes on Cars and on Gasoline Mimic an Unavailable Tax on Emissions?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 135-157, January.
  4. Barry Ubbels & Erik Verhoef, 2006. "Governmental Competition in Road Charging and Capacity Choice," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-036/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 10 Sep 2007.
  5. Bento, Antonio M. & Goulder, Lawrence H. & Jacobsen, Mark R. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2007. "Distributional and Efficiency Impacts of Increased U.S. Gasoline Taxes," Working Papers 127021, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  6. de Palma, André & Lindsey, Robin, 2007. "Chapter 2 Transport user charges and cost recovery," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 29-57, January.
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