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Auctioning concessions for private roads

  • Ubbels, Barry
  • Verhoef, Erik T.

Private toll roads are now seriously considered as an alternative to public (free-access) road infrastructure. Nevertheless, complete private provision without governmental control is only rarely considered. A main consideration against private roads would be that operators would be primarily interested in maximizing profits, which - given the market power they will have - will typically not lead to welfare-maximizing tolls and capacities. An important question is whether these discrepancies can be mitigated by a proper design of auctions for concessions of private roads. This paper therefore analyses capacity choice and toll setting by private investors in a competitive bidding framework organized by the government. We develop a two-link network simulation model with an untolled alternative to determine relative efficiency effects, and analyze rules for the government to organize the bidding process such that a more desired (welfare optimal) outcome is achieved. Our results show that, depending on the design of the auction, its outcomes may vary strongly, and may approach the maximum possible (second-best) welfare gains.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Volume (Year): 42 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 155-172

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Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:42:y:2008:i:1:p:155-172
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  1. Verhoef, Erik T., 2007. "Second-best road pricing through highway franchising," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 337-361, September.
  2. Mills, David E, 1981. "Ownership Arrangements and Congestion-Prone Facilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 493-502, June.
  3. Jyh-Fa Tsai & Chih-Peng Chu, 2003. "The analysis of regulation on private highway investment under a build-operate-transfer scheme," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 221-243, May.
  4. Edelson, Noel M, 1971. "Congestion Tolls Under Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(5), pages 873-82, December.
  5. Verhoef, Erik & Nijkamp, Peter & Rietveld, Piet, 1996. "Second-Best Congestion Pricing: The Case of an Untolled Alternative," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 279-302, November.
  6. Small, Kenneth A., 1999. "Economies of scale and self-financing rules with non-competitive factor markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 431-450, December.
  7. Rienstra, S.A. & Nijkamp, P., 1996. "Lessons from private financing of transport infrastructure: Dutch infrastructure in the 19th century and European projects in the 20th century," Serie Research Memoranda 0013, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  8. AndrÊ de Palma & Robin Lindsey, 2000. "Private toll roads: Competition under various ownership regimes," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 13-35.
  9. Yang, Hai & Meng, Qiang, 2000. "Highway pricing and capacity choice in a road network under a build-operate-transfer scheme," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 207-222, April.
  10. 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.
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