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A political economy model of road pricing

  • DE BORGER, Bruno
  • PROOST, Stef

In this paper, we take a political economy approach to study the introduction of urban congestion tolls, using a simple majority voting model. Making users pay for external congestion costs is for an economist an obvious reform, but successful introductions of externality pricing in transport are rare. In the few cases where tolls were actually introduced, implementation was characterized by two salient facts. First, the toll revenues were tied to improvements of public transport. Second, opposition to the introduction of tolling decreased substantially after it was introduced. In most cases, a majority was against ex ante, but a majority favored the introduction of tolling after it was implemented. This paper develops a stylized model with car and public transport, allowing for idiosyncratic uncertainty about modal substitution costs. We show that uncertainty reduces the number of voters that favors road pricing ex ante. The model can explain the presence of a majority that is against road pricing ex ante and in favor ex post. Moreover, uncertainty also implies that, if a majority is against ex ante, there will be no majority for organizing an experiment that would take away the individual uncertainty. Finally, we show that it is easier to obtain a majority when the toll revenues are used to subsidize public transport than when they are used for a tax refund.

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Paper provided by University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2010014.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2010014
Contact details of provider: Postal: Prinsstraat 13, B-2000 Antwerpen
Web page: https://www.uantwerp.be/en/faculties/applied-economic-sciences/

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  1. King, David & Manville, Michael & Shoup, Donald, 2007. "The political calculus of congestion pricing," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 111-123, March.
  2. Small, Kenneth A., 1992. "Using the Revenues from Congestion Pricing," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt32p9m3mm, University of California Transportation Center.
  3. King, David & Manville, Michael & Shoup, Donald, 2007. "The political calculus of congestion pricing," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt9js9z8gz, University of California Transportation Center.
  4. Stephen Coate & Stephen Morris, . ""Policy Persistence ''," CARESS Working Papres 95-19, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 1999. "Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Discussion Papers dp-99-45, Resources For the Future.
  6. Kidokoro, Yukihiro, 2010. "Revenue recycling within transport networks," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 46-55, July.
  7. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 1998. "Marginal Tax Reform, Externalities and Income Distribution," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces9832, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  8. Winston, Clifford & Maheshri, Vikram, 2007. "On the social desirability of urban rail transit systems," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 362-382, September.
  9. Antonio Ciccone, 2004. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 785-795, June.
  10. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  11. Ian W.H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2007. "Should Urban Transit Subsidies Be Reduced?," Working Papers 060723, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  12. Brownstone, David & Small, Kenneth A., 2003. "Valuing Time and Reliability: Assessing the Evidence from Road Pricing Demonstrations," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt95z0p35k, University of California Transportation Center.
  13. Eric Maskin, 2003. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000076, UCLA Department of Economics.
  14. Schade, J. & Baum, M., 2007. "Reactance or acceptance? Reactions towards the introduction of road pricing," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 41-48, January.
  15. CALTHROP, Edward & DE BORGER, Bruno & PROOST, Stef, 2008. "Cost-benefit analysis of transport investments in distorted economies," Working Papers 2008011, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. Winslott-Hiselius, Lena & Brundell-Freij, Karin & Vagland, Asa & Byström, Camilla, 2009. "The development of public attitudes towards the Stockholm congestion trial," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 269-282, March.
  18. Fay DUNKERLEY & Amihai GLAZER & Stef PROOST, 2010. "What drives gasoline taxes?," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces10.01, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  19. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Scholarly Articles 3450061, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
  21. Eliasson, Jonas & Hultkrantz, Lars & Nerhagen, Lena & Rosqvist, Lena Smidfelt, 2009. "The Stockholm congestion - charging trial 2006: Overview of effects," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 240-250, March.
  22. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1993. "A Structural Model of Peak-Period Congestion: A Traffic Bottleneck with Elastic Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 161-79, March.
  23. Odeck, James & Bråthen, Svein, 2002. "Toll financing in Norway: The success, the failures and perspectives for the future," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 253-260, July.
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