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The Value of "Value Pricing" of Roads: Second-Best Pricing and Product Differentiation

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  • Small, Kenneth A.
  • Yan, Jia

Abstract

Some road-pricing demonstrations use an approach call ed "value pricing", in which travelers can choose between a free but congested roadway and a priced roadway. Recent research has uncovered a potentially serious problem for such demonstrations: in certain models, second-best tolls are far lower than those typically charged, and the welfare gains from profit maximization are small or even negative. That research, however, assumes that all travelers are identical, and it therefore neglects the benefits of product differentiation, by which people with different values of time can choose a suitable cost / quality combination. Using a model with two user groups, we find that accounting for heterogeneity in value of time is important in evaluating constrained policies, and improves the relative performance of policies that offer differential prices. Nevertheless, for most of the reasonable range of heterogeneity, second-best pricing produces far fewer benefits than priciing both roadways optimally, and profit-maximizing tolls are so high that overall welfare is reduced from the no-toll baseline.

Suggested Citation

  • Small, Kenneth A. & Yan, Jia, 2000. "The Value of "Value Pricing" of Roads: Second-Best Pricing and Product Differentiation," Discussion Papers 10550, Resources for the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:rffdps:10550
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.10550
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities

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