Uncovering the Distribution of Motorists' Preferences for Travel Time and Reliability: Implications for Road Pricing
Recent econometric advances have made it possible to empirically identify the varied nature of consumers' preferences. We apply these advances to study commuters' preferences for speedy and reliable highway travel with the objective of exploring efficiency and distributional effects of road pricing that accounts for users' heterogeneity. Our analysis combines revealed and stated commuter choices of whether to pay a toll for congestion-free express travel or to travel free on regular congested roads. We find that highway users exhibit substantial heterogeneity in their values of travel time and reliability. Moreover, we show that road pricing policies that cater to varying preferences can substantially increase efficiency while maintaining the political feasibility exhibited by current experiments. By recognizing heterogeneity, policymakers may break the current impasse in efforts to relieve highway congestion.
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