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Measuring Marginal Congestion Costs of Urban Transportation: Do Networks Matter?

  • Safirova, Elena


    (Resources for the Future)

  • Gillingham, Kenneth

In determining the marginal cost of congestion, economists have traditionally relied upon directly measuring traffic congestion on network links, disregarding any “network effects,” since the latter are difficult to estimate. While for simple networks the comparison can be done within a theoretical framework, it is important to know whether such network effects in real large-scale networks are quantitatively significant. In this paper we use a strategic transportation planning model (START) to compare marginal congestion costs computed link-by-link with measures taking into account network effects. We find that while in aggregate network effects are not significant, congestion measured on a single link is a poor predictor of total congestion costs imposed by travel on that link. Also, we analyze the congestion proliferation effect on the network to see how congestion is distributed within an urban area.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-03-56.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2003
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-03-56
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  1. Parry, Ian & Harrington, Winston & Nelson, Per-Kristian & Safirova, Elena & Mason, Dave & Gillingham, Kenneth, 2003. "Welfare and Distributional Effects of Road Pricing Schemes for Metropolitan Washington, DC," Discussion Papers dp-03-57, Resources For the Future.
  2. Newbery, David M, 1990. "Pricing and Congestion: Economic Principles Relevant to Pricing Roads," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 22-38, Summer.
  3. Safirova, Elena A. & Houde, Sébastien & Lipman, D. Abram & Harrington, Winston & Bagliano, Andrew D., 2006. "Congestion Pricing: Long-Term Economic and Land-Use Effects," Discussion Papers dp-06-37, Resources For the Future.
  4. Jenelius, Erik & Petersen, Tom & Mattsson, Lars-Göran, 2006. "Importance and exposure in road network vulnerability analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 537-560, August.
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  6. Liu, Louie Nan & McDonald, John F., 1998. "Efficient Congestion Tolls in the Presence of Unpriced Congestion: A Peak and Off-Peak Simulation Model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 352-366, November.
  7. 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.
  8. Daniel J. Graham & Stephen Glaister, 2006. "Spatial Implications of Transport Pricing," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 40(2), pages 173-201, May.
  9. Erik T. Verhoef & Kenneth A. Small, 1999. "Product Differentiation on Roads: Second-Best Congestion Pricing with Heterogeneity under Public and Private Ownership," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 99-066/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  10. DeCorla-Souza, Patrick, 2004. "12. Recent U.S. Experience: Pilot Projects," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 283-308, January.
  11. Santos, Georgina, 2004. "11. Urban Road Pricing In The U.K," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 251-282, January.
  12. de Palma, André & Kilani, Moez & Lindsey, Robin, 2005. "Congestion pricing on a road network: A study using the dynamic equilibrium simulator METROPOLIS," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(7-9), pages 588-611.
  13. Hanna Armelius, 2005. "An Integrated Approach to Urban Road Pricing," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 39(1), pages 75-92, January.
  14. Richard Arnott & An Yan, 2000. "The Two-Mode Problem: Second-Best Pricing and Capacity," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 474, Boston College Department of Economics.
  15. Ramjerdi, Farideh & Minken, Harald & Østmoe, Knut, 2004. "10. Norwegian Urban Tolls," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 237-249, January.
  16. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 1999. "Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Discussion Papers dp-99-45, Resources For the Future.
  17. Yang, Hai & Huang, Hai-Jun, 1998. "Principle of marginal-cost pricing: how does it work in a general road network?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 45-54, January.
  18. Dewees, Donald N, 1979. "Estimating the Time Costs of Highway Congestion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(6), pages 1499-1512, November.
  19. Nelson, Peter & Baglino, Andrew & Harrington, Winston & Safirova, Elena & Lipman, Abram, 2007. "Transit in Washington, DC: Current benefits and optimal level of provision," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 231-251, September.
  20. Lei Zhang & David Levinson, 2006. "Economics of Road Network Ownership," Working Papers 200908, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
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