Evaluating the Congestion Relief Impacts of Public Transport in Monetary Terms

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, land use - impacts, policy - congestion


traffic congestion, public transport


Traffic congestion is a major urban transport problem. Efficient public transport (PT) can be one of the potential solutions to the problem of urban road traffic congestion. Public transport systems can carry a significant amount of trips during congested hours, improving overall transportation capacity, and can release the burden of excess demand on congested road networks. This paper presents a comparative assessment of international research valuing the congestion relief impacts of PT. It explores previous research valuing congestion relief impacts and examines secondary evidence demonstrating changes in mode split associated with changes in public transport. The research establishes a framework for estimating the monetary value of the congestion reduction impacts of public transport. Congestion relief impacts are valued at between 4.4 and 151.4 cents (Aus$, 2008) per marginal vehicle km of travel, with an average of 45.0 cents. Valuations are higher for circumstances with greater degrees of traffic congestion and also where both travel time and vehicle operating cost savings are considered. A simplified congestion relief valuation model is presented to estimate the congestion relief benefits of PT based on readily -available transport data. Using the average congestion valuation and mode shift evidence, the model has been applied to a number of cities to estimate the monetary value of the congestion relief impact of public transport. Overall, the analysis presents a simplified method to investigate the impact of public transport on traffic congestion.