Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Becker/Posner/Arnott on road congestion

Gary Becker (here) and Richard Posner (here) provide a reasonably good discussion of the practicalities of road pricing and other measures for dealing with traffic congestion.

Becker estimates the cost of congestion to the US economy at $150 billion or 1% of GDP.

Posner mentions the recent study by R. Arnott, T. Rave & R. Schob, Alleviating Urban Traffic Congestion, which looks worthwhile. Arnott does not place a lot of weight on congestion pricing and looks for alternatives such as parking and urban policies.

The blurb on the Arnott et al. book states:

In 2000, the average driver in US metropolitan areas endured 27 hours of traffic delays, a rise from 7 hours in 1980. In many other countries, traffic delays are considerably worse than in the United States, and in developing countries urban traffic congestion is increasing with alarming rapidity. For fifty years, economists have been advocating congestion pricing as the way to deal with urban traffic congestion; but today, even after some successes, congestion pricing is encountering considerable political resistance. The authors of Alleviating Urban Traffic Congestion advocate active consideration of more microscopic policies that attack the problem at the scale at which actual policy decisions are made. Microscopic models, rather than macroscopic models that are too simplified and too aggregated, they argue, will lead to the analysis of a wider and more creative range of policies, at least some of which should work well and be politically acceptable.

Looks good.

No comments: