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8. Welfare And Distributional Effects Of Road Pricing Schemes For Metropolitan Washington Dc

  • Safirova, Elena
  • Gillingham, Kenneth
  • Parry, Ian
  • Nelson, Peter
  • Harrington, Winston
  • Mason, David

Economists have long advocated congestion pricing as an efficient way of allocating scarce roadway capacity. However, with a few exceptions, congestion tolls are rarely used in practice and strongly opposed by the public and elected officials. Although high implementation costs and privacy issues are alleviated as appropriate technologies are developed, the concerns that congestion pricing will adversely affect low-income travelers remain. In this paper, we use a strategic transportation planning model calibrated for the Washington, DC, metropolitan area to compare the welfare and distributional effects of three pricing schemes: value pricing (HOT lanes), limited congestion pricing, and comprehensive congestion pricing. We find that social welfare gains from HOT lanes amount to three-quarters of those from the comprehensive road pricing. At the same time, a HOT lanes policy turns out to be much more equitable than other road pricing schemes, with all income groups strictly benefiting even before the toll revenue is recycled.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research in Transportation Economics.

Volume (Year): 9 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 179-206

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Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:9:y:2004:i:1:p:179-206
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  1. Parry, Ian, 2000. "Comparing the Efficiency of Alternative Policies for Reducing Traffic Congestion," Discussion Papers dp-00-28, Resources For the Future.
  2. Krupnick, Alan & Harrington, Winston & Alberini, Anna, 1998. "Overcoming Public Aversion to Congestion Pricing," Discussion Papers dp-98-27, Resources For the Future.
  3. Parry, Ian W H & Bento, Antonio, 2001. " Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 645-71, December.
  4. Small, Kenneth A., 2001. "Using the Revenues from Congestion Pricing," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7170x9b0, University of California Transportation Center.
  5. Small, Kenneth & Yan, Jia, 2000. "The Value of "Value Pricing" of Roads: Second-Best Pricing and Product Differentiation," Discussion Papers dp-00-08, Resources For the Future.
  6. Gerard de Jong & Hugh Gunn, 2001. "Recent Evidence on Car Cost and Time Elasticities of Travel Demand in Europe," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and University of Bath, vol. 35(2), pages 137-160, May.
  7. Vickrey, William S, 1969. "Congestion Theory and Transport Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 251-60, May.
  8. Ison, S., 2000. "Local authority and academic attitudes to urban road pricing: a UK perspective," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 269-277, October.
  9. Parry, Ian W. H. & Bento, Antonio, 2002. "Estimating the Welfare Effect of Congestion Taxes: The Critical Importance of Other Distortions within the Transport System," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 339-365, March.
  10. Mayeres, Inge & Proost, Stef, 1997. " Optimal Tax and Public Investment Rules for Congestion Type of Externalities," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 261-79, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Small, Kenneth A., 1983. "The incidence of congestion tolls on urban highways," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 90-111, January.
  13. Kenneth A. Small & Clifford Winston & Jia Yan, 2005. "Uncovering the Distribution of Motorists' Preferences for Travel Time and Reliability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1367-1382, 07.
  14. Verhoef, Erik T., 2002. "Second-best congestion pricing in general networks. Heuristic algorithms for finding second-best optimal toll levels and toll points," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 707-729, September.
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