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A political economy model of road pricing

  • Bruno DE BORGER
  • Stef PROOST

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. The two exceptions are London and Stockholm that are characterized by two salient facts. First, the toll revenues were tied to improvements of public transport. Second, although a majority was against road pricing before it was actually introduced, a majority was in favor of the policy reform after its introduction. This paper constructs a model to explain these two aspects. Using a stylized model with car and public transport, 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. Furthermore, introducing idiosyncratic uncertainty for car substitution costs, we can explain the presence of a majority that is ex ante against road pricing and ex post in favor. The ex ante majority against road pricing also implies that there is no majority for organizing an experiment that would take away the individual uncertainty.

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File URL: http://feb.kuleuven.be/drc/Economics/research/old-dps-papers/Dps10/Dps1020.pdf
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Paper provided by KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers Department of Economics with number ces10.20.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces10.20
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://feb.kuleuven.be/Economics/

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  1. Parry, Ian W.H. & Bento, Antonio Miguel R., 1999. "Revenue recycling and the welfare effects of road pricing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2253, The World Bank.
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  6. Small, Kenneth A., 2001. "Using the Revenues from Congestion Pricing," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7170x9b0, University of California Transportation Center.
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  8. Fay DUNKERLEY & Amihai GLAZER & Stef PROOST, 2010. "What drives gasoline taxes?," Working Papers Department of Economics ces10.01, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Brownstone, David & Small, Kenneth A., 2005. "Valuing time and reliability: assessing the evidence from road pricing demonstrations," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 279-293, May.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Calthrop, Edward & De Borger, Bruno & Proost, Stef, 2010. "Cost-benefit analysis of transport investments in distorted economies," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 850-869, August.
  14. Stephen Coate & Stephen Morris, . "Policy Persistence," CARESS Working Papres 97-2, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 1998. "Marginal Tax Reform, Externalities and Income Distribution," Working Papers Department of Economics ces9832, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  18. Yukihiro Kidokoro, 2008. "Revenue-recycling within Transport Networks," GRIPS Discussion Papers 08-07, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. King, David & Manville, Michael & Shoup, Donald, 2007. "The political calculus of congestion pricing," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 111-123, March.
  23. 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.
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