Competition and efficiency of private toll roads
As the provision of roads has become market driven, many intriguing issues have emerged, such as the strategic interactions among private firms in determining road supply and pricing in a network and, more importantly, the resulting inefficiencies when competition substitutes for government regulation. This paper studies both toll and capacity competition among private asymmetric roads with congestion in a network with parallel links. We find that oligopolistic competition yields higher tolls but lower construction capacities than the socially optimal levels and, as a result, the level of traffic congestion does not decline. Based on some widely used assumptions, we show that the usage or the congestion level of each road controlled by each private firm, represented by the volume-capacity (v/c) ratio, is independent of the other competitors' choices of capacities and tolls in the oligopolistic market. To quantify the inefficiency of the oligopolistic equilibria via higher tolls and less realized traffic demand, we establish the upper bound of the ratio of the social welfare between the competitive equilibrium and the social optimum. The inefficiency bound depends mainly on the marginal benefit of trip-makers and the realized traffic demand at equilibrium on the private roads. Exact bounds are given by considering both the worst and symmetric cases. Naturally, our results show that the distortion disappears when the oligopoly changes to perfect competition.
Volume (Year): 41 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
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