Congestion Pricing on a Road Network: A Study Using the Dynamic Equilibrium Simulator METROPOLIS

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - route design, ridership - mode choice, ridership - commuting, policy - fares, policy - congestion, economics - pricing, place - urban, mode - subway/metro


Welfare economics, Urban highways, Trip timing, Travel behavior, Traffic simulation, Tolls, Through highways, Thoroughfares, Thorofares, Route selection, Route choice, Roundabouts, Pricing, Origin and destination, Optimization, Optimisation, O&D, Networks, Network equilibrium, Modern roundabouts, Mode choice, Modal choice, Main roads, Links (Networks), Equilibrium (Systems), Departure time, Congestion pricing, Choice of transportation, Boulevards, Arterial streets, Arterial highways


To measure the efficiency gains and welfare-distributional effects of road pricing accurately, models need to account for potential behavioral responses to tolls and, in particular, adjustments in trip timing. This paper analyzes some road pricing schemes using the dynamic network simulator METROPOLIS, a tool that treats endogenously departure-time decisions as well as mode and route choices of individual travelers. Simulations are conducted for a stylized urban road network that consists of radial arterials and circumferential ring roads, and with trip origins and destinations that are distributed throughout the network. Six types of link-tolling schemes are analyzed: (1) the system optimum which can be supported approximately by imposing time-varying step tolls that eliminate queuing, (2) a set of comprehensive flat (time-independent) tolls, (3,4) second-best flat and step tolls for a toll cordon, and (5,6) second-best flat and step tolls within a charge area. Two results show the superiority of step tolls over flat tolls. First, step tolls easily outperform flat tolls in terms of welfare gains while inducing a smaller shift of trips from auto to transit. Second, step tolls generate smaller revenues than do flat tolls, and consequently have more favorable distributional impacts on travelers. These results are consistent with the findings of earlier analytical studies using the bottleneck model on one or two links. Future extensions of this analysis are discussed.


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