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Urban Transportation Policy: A Guide and Road Map


  • Kenneth A. Small

    () (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)


The main transportation issues facing cities today fall into familiar categories--congestion and public transit. For congestion, there is now a far richer menu of options that are understood, technically feasible, and perhaps politically feasible. One can now contemplate offering roads of different qualities and prices. Many selected road segments are now operated by the private sector. Road pricing is routinely considered in planning exercises, and field experiments have made it more familiar to urban voters. Concerns about environmental effects of urban trucking have resulted in serious interest in tolled truck-only express highways. As for public transit, there is a need for political mechanisms to allow each type of transit to specialize where it is strongest. The spread of "bus rapid transit" has opened new possibilities for providing the advantages of rail transit at lower cost. The prospect of pricing and privatizing highway facilities could reduce the amount of subsidy needed to maintain a healthy transit system. Privately operated public transit is making a comeback in other parts of the world. The single most positive step toward better urban transportation would be to encourage the spread of road pricing. A second step, more speculative because it has not been researched, would be to use more environmentally-friendly road designs that provide needed capacity but at modest speeds, and that would not necessarily serve all vehicles.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth A. Small, 2007. "Urban Transportation Policy: A Guide and Road Map," Working Papers 060724, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:irv:wpaper:060724

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antonio Estache & Andrés Gómez-Lobo, 2003. "The limits to competition in urban bus services in developing countries," Working Papers wp205, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    2. Dahlgren, Joy, 1998. "High occupancy vehicle lanes: Not always more effective than general purpose lanes," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 99-114, February.
    3. B. De Borger & K. Kerstens, 2006. "The performance of bus-transit operators," Post-Print hal-00185456, HAL.
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    More about this item


    Transportation policy; Road pricing; Privatization; Product differentiation;

    JEL classification:

    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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