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Do Economists Reach A Conclusion on Road Pricing? The Intellectual History of an Idea

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  • Robin Lindsey

Abstract

My search of the economic literature did not find a soul who favours traffic jams. Moreover, I find strong consensus among economists on how to reduce traffic jams. Especially in light of modern electronic toll collection, they believe in pricing highway capacity as a scarce resource. Beyond that primary insight, however, there is much disagreement. Economists disagree over how to set tolls, how to cover common costs, what to do with any excess revenues, whether and how “losers†from tolling previously free roads should be compensated, and whether to privatize highways. These disagreements fill a lot of pages, while the main point of agreement is largely taken for granted. Practically all economists who write on the matter agree that where there is significant congestion on highways, the price should not be zero.

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  • Robin Lindsey, 2006. "Do Economists Reach A Conclusion on Road Pricing? The Intellectual History of an Idea," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(2), pages 292-379, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:3:y:2006:i:2:p:292-379
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    8. Daniel B. Klein & Charlotta Stern, 2007. "Is There a Free‐Market Economist in the House? The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 309-334, April.
    9. Chen, Daqiang & Ignatius, Joshua & Sun, Danzhi & Goh, Mark & Zhan, Shalei, 2018. "Impact of congestion pricing schemes on emissions and temporal shift of freight transport," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 77-105.
    10. Ian W.H. Parry, 2009. "Pricing Urban Congestion," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 461-484, September.
    11. Haywood, Luke & Koning, Martin, 2015. "The distribution of crowding costs in public transport: New evidence from Paris," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 182-201.
    12. Ke, Yue & Gkritza, Konstantina, 2018. "Income and spatial distributional effects of a congestion tax: A hypothetical case of Oregon," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 28-35.
    13. Nagy, Benedek, 2012. "A repülőtéri zsúfoltságkezelési módszerek hatékonysága [The efficiency of methods to treat crowding in airports]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 74-91.
    14. Robin Lindsey, 2010. "Reforming Road User Charges: A Research Challenge For Regional Science," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 471-492, February.
    15. Hall, Jonathan D., 2018. "Pareto improvements from Lexus Lanes: The effects of pricing a portion of the lanes on congested highways," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 113-125.
    16. Rotaris, Lucia & Danielis, Romeo & Marcucci, Edoardo & Massiani, Jérôme, 2010. "The urban road pricing scheme to curb pollution in Milan, Italy: Description, impacts and preliminary cost-benefit analysis assessment," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(5), pages 359-375, June.
    17. Haywood, Luke & Koning, Martin & Prud'homme, Remy, 2018. "The economic cost of subway congestion: Estimates from Paris," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 1-8.
    18. Ian Parry, 2014. "Designing Fiscal Policy to Address the External Costs of Energy," CESifo Working Paper Series 5128, CESifo.
    19. Neuteleers, Stijn & Mulder, Machiel & Hindriks, Frank, 2017. "Assessing fairness of dynamic grid tariffs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 111-120.
    20. Tan, Zhijia & Yang, Hai & Guo, Xiaolei, 2010. "Properties of Pareto-efficient contracts and regulations for road franchising," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 415-433, May.
    21. Vanoutrive, Thomas & Zijlstra, Toon, 2018. "Who has the right to travel during peak hours? On congestion pricing and ‘desirable’ travellers," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 98-107.
    22. Yang, Hai & Wang, Xiaolei, 2011. "Managing network mobility with tradable credits," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 580-594, March.
    23. Tan, Zhijia & Yang, Hai, 2012. "Flexible build-operate-transfer contracts for road franchising under demand uncertainty," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1419-1439.
    24. Cameron Hepburn, 2006. "Regulation by Prices, Quantities, or Both: A Review of Instrument Choice," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 226-247, Summer.
    25. Claudio R. Lucinda & Rodrigo Moita, 2019. "The Political Economy of an Optimal Congestion Tax: An Empirical Investigation," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2019_10, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Road pricing; tolls; toll collection; toll roads; turnpikes; highways; marginal-cost pricing; traffic congestion; Pigouvian taxes; economists;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy

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