Road Pricing, Traffic Congestion and the Environment: Issues of Efficiency and Social Feasibility

Road Pricing, Traffic Congestion and the Environment: Issues of Efficiency and Social Feasibility

Road Pricing, Traffic Congestion and the Environment: Issues of Efficiency and Social Feasibility

Road Pricing, Traffic Congestion and the Environment: Issues of Efficiency and Social Feasibility

Synopsis

This text examines Pigouvian taxes, one of the policies for dealing with increased traffic flow and congestion, as well as considering a variety of other policies which may be more politically and socially acceptable.

Excerpt

Road pricing has been a topic of both academic interest and a discussion of policy debate almost from the moment that Arthur Pigou suggested the idea in 1920. We have both had an interest in the topic for some time and in 1994 felt it appropriate to try to gather some original papers that would both look at the development of the concept over 75 years or so, and highlight some of the current areas of work that are concerned with road pricing issues. A 75year anniversary volume would have been ideal but the world never works quite like that, so just as it has taken rather longer for road pricing to become a reality so there has been a lag in producing this volume.

The publication of this volume is timely, however, in our opinion. It is appearing just when transport policy is moving away from a tradition of road construction to meet all traffic growth to one of traffic management. The growing concern with environmental issues has influenced this switch but equally there has been a gradual realization that without appropriate management, and in particular pricing, roads are not often being used efficiently and resources are effectively being wasted. Road pricing, while not directly dealing with the environmental concern, does lead to a more rational allocation of road space.

The current debates surrounding road pricing are really at two levels and we have tried to show this in the contributions that we have gathered. The theory of how the price should be calculated has moved on a lot since Pigou's time and we hope this is reflected in the contributions in this volume. Equally, while Pigou's analysis was primarily theoretical, there has been an expanding debate on how in practice road pricing could be operationalized. We have asked a number of experts to look at this issue and their views are set out in several of the contributions in this book.

Finally, and this is no afterthought, an edited volume is only as good as the contributions that appear in it. We would like to thank the authors who have made this volume possible. It takes time to write academic papers and we appreciate the considerable effort that the very busy individuals who helped us in this venture put into their contributions.

Kenneth J. Button Erik T. Verhoef . . .

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