P R. Stopher

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - capacity, operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, policy - congestion, economics - pricing, mode - mass transit


Vehicle exhaust, Value pricing (Road pricing), User charges, Transportation policy, Transit, Traffic congestion, Traffic capacity, Social costs, Road pricing, Ridership, Public transit, Policy analysis, Patronage (Transit ridership), Mobility, Mass transit, Local transit, Highway capacity, Gridlock (Traffic), Externalities, Exhaust gases, Exhaust emissions, Congestion pricing, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Automobile exhaust, Accessibility


Recent transportation policy seems to be focused on massive increases in public transport ridership and decreases of car use. These policies are aimed at reducing two perceived externalities of increasing car use: vehicular emissions and congestion. This paper questions the desirability and achievability of these policy directions. The paper begins by looking at congestion and examining whether or not it is intrinsically bad. The negative and positive aspects of congestion are explored. The concepts of accessibility and mobility are discussed, particularly in relation to congestion and capacity increases, with the idea of trying to understand better what capacity increases or increasing congestion do to these two measures. The expectation must be that congestion levels are likely to continue to increase into the future, both as a result of increasing population and also increasing real wealth and changes in preferences. The author concludes that it is within the power of the market to offset some of the negatives of congestion. The paper addresses the potential of congestion charging and increasing public transportation ridership in impacting congestion, and concludes that neither is likely to be useful mechanism for reducing long-term congestion. In the final section of the paper, a number of policy directions, including road pricing, are put forward as suggestions for how to deal with the issue of congestion, capacity and the declining share of market of public transport. These policy directions are not generally the ones that are being pursued today.


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