Rand: Best Congestion Strategies Are Price-Based

In 2008, RAND Corp. conducted a study on mitigating traffic congestion in Los Angeles. They studied two types of strategies: conventional, e.g. signal timing, and market-based, e.g. increased the price of driving. The results were surprising.

1 minute read

January 2, 2009, 12:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid


Conventional congestion mitigation strategies included
• Ridesharing promotions
• Signal timing improvement
• Accident management
• Telecommuting promotion
• Flexible work hours promotion
• Traveler information systems

"They can briefly get traffic moving faster, but just about every improvement in travel time results in ... more people taking to the road! Over the long haul, apparently, most congestion relief efforts sow the seeds of their own destruction."

"In the end, RAND found that only a few strategies had any significant potential to curb congestion. All raised the cost of trips on congested routes."

RAND singled out two basic tactics:
• charging tolls for driving where congestion is heaviest;
• making it more expensive for drivers to park"

"Sadly, RAND also found that the road pricing solutions -- the top two (HOT lanes and cordon-congestion pricing/tolls)-- face huge political and practical obstacles.

Which leaves parking pricing (including parking cash-out) in the sweet spot."

Thanks to John Hartz

Friday, December 19, 2008 in Gristmill Blog

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