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Comparing the efficiency of alternative policies for reducing traffic congestion

  • Parry, I. W. H.

This paper compares the efficiency of a single lane toll, a congestion tax applied uniformly across freeway lanes, a gasoline tax, and a transit fare subsidy at reducing traffic congestion. The model incorporates a variety of conditions required to reach an efficient outcome. These include conditions for the efficient allocation of travel among competing modes, travel at peak versus off-peak periods, and drivers with high and low time costs sorted onto faster and slower freeway lanes. Each policy violates some or all of the efficiency conditions. Under wide parameter scenarios, the single lane toll, gasoline tax, and transit subsidy forgo at least two thirds of the efficiency gains under an "ideal" congestion tax that varies across lanes. In contrast, the uniform congestion tax can achieve more than 90 percent of the efficiency gains, despite failing to separate out drivers with high and low time costs onto different freeway lanes.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 85 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 333-362

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:85:y:2002:i:3:p:333-362
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Liu, Louie Nan & McDonald, John F., 1998. "Efficient Congestion Tolls in the Presence of Unpriced Congestion: A Peak and Off-Peak Simulation Model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 352-366, November.
  2. Small, Kenneth A., 1983. "The incidence of congestion tolls on urban highways," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 90-111, January.
  3. Verhoef, Erik Teodoor & Small, Kenneth A., 1999. "Product Differentiation on Roads: Second-Best Congestion Pricing with Heterogeneity under Public and Private Ownership," ERSA conference papers ersa99pa358, European Regional Science Association.
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  5. Richard Arnott & Kenneth Small, 1993. "The Economics Of Traffic Congestion," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 256, Boston College Department of Economics.
  6. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 2000. "Estimating the Welfare Effect of Congestion Taxes: The Critical Importance of Other Distortions within the Transport System," Discussion Papers dp-00-51, Resources For the Future.
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  8. Small, Kenneth A. & Gomez-Ibanez, Jose A., 1999. "Urban transportation," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 1937-1999 Elsevier.
  9. Erik T. Verhoef & Kenneth A. Small, 1999. "Product Differentiation on Roads: Second-Best Congestion Pricing with Heterogeneity under Public and Private Ownership," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 99-066/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  10. Newbery, David M, 1990. "Pricing and Congestion: Economic Principles Relevant to Pricing Roads," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 22-38, Summer.
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  12. Glaister, Stephen & Lewis, Davis, 1978. "An integrated fares policy for transport in London," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 341-355, June.
  13. Balasko, Yves, 1997. "Pareto optima, welfare weights, and smooth equilibrium analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 473-503.
  14. Krupnick, Alan & Harrington, Winston & Alberini, Anna, 1998. "Overcoming Public Aversion to Congestion Pricing," Discussion Papers dp-98-27, Resources For the Future.
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  17. Small, Kenneth A. & Gomez-Ilbanez, Jose A., 1998. "Road Pricing for Congestion Management: The Transition from Theory to Policy," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt8kk909p1, University of California Transportation Center.
  18. repec:dgr:uvatin:1999066 is not listed on IDEAS
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