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Capacity cost structure, welfare and cost recovery: are transport infrastructures with high fixed costs a handicap?

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  • Bruno De Borger
  • Fay Dunkerley
  • Stef Proost

Abstract

In this paper, we consider a region that invests in infrastructure used by both local demand and through transport. We then compare transport systems that have, for a given capacity, the same total infrastructure cost but vary in the proportion of fixed costs and variable capacity costs. We show, first, that infrastructure which has (ceteris paribus) a higher share of fixed costs leads to higher welfare for the regional government building it. Contrary to what is commonly believed, it therefore requires less, rather than more, federal subsidies. Second, we find that, even for capacity characterized by, ceteris paribus, very high shares of fixed costs, financing of infrastructure is generally not an important issue as long as regions are allowed to toll through traffic. Third, if member states cannot toll through traffic, or if a federal authority (such as the EU or the USA) can impose pricing at the global marginal social cost, our analysis shows that this reduces investment incentives for the individual regions, and subsidies may be needed. We discuss the policy implications of these findings and illustrate all theoretical results numerically.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno De Borger & Fay Dunkerley & Stef Proost, 2008. "Capacity cost structure, welfare and cost recovery: are transport infrastructures with high fixed costs a handicap?," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0803, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0803
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. De Borger, B. & Dunkerley, F. & Proost, S., 2007. "Strategic investment and pricing decisions in a congested transport corridor," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 294-316, September.
    2. De Borger, B. & Proost, S. & Van Dender, K., 2005. "Congestion and tax competition in a parallel network," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 2013-2040, November.
    3. Richard J. Arnott & Ronald E. Grieson, 1978. "Optimal Fiscal Policy for State and Local Government," Working Papers 291, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    4. de Palma, André & Lindsey, Robin, 2007. "Chapter 2 Transport user charges and cost recovery," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 29-57, January.
    5. Richard Arnott & Marvin Kraus, 1995. "Self-Financing of Congestible Facilities in a Growing Economy," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 304., Boston College Department of Economics.
    6. 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 161-179, March.
    7. Zhang, Anming & Zhang, Yimin, 2003. "Airport charges and capacity expansion: effects of concessions and privatization," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 54-75, January.
    8. David Levinson, 2001. "Why States Toll: An Empirical Model of Finance Choice," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 35(2), pages 223-237, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. De Borger, Bruno & Proost, Stef, 2015. "The political economy of public transport pricing and supply decisions," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 95-109.
    2. Proost, Stef & Dunkerley, Fay & Borger, Bruno De & Gühneman, Astrid & Koskenoja, Pia & Mackie, Peter & Loo, Saskia Van der, 2011. "When are subsidies to trans-European network projects justified?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 161-170, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    capacity cost structure; cost recovery; transport investment;

    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

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