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Explain why road congestion is a negative externality.

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Introduction

Explain why road congestion is a negative externality. Congestion comes about when journey times taken by road users, are in excess of their normal expectations. It is simply initiated by too many cars pursuing too little road space. The demand for cars has far exceeded the supply due to increase in incomes and relative fall in the prices, thus more cars are on the road. This problem is heightened every day in London where the average speed in central London is 5.7mph, a mild jogging pace. More than one million people enter central London by all forms of transport and nearly 40 000 vehicles crowd onto the roads an hour. The effects of Road congestion produce an array of negative externalities. Air Pollution is a major externality, atmospheric emissions from pollutants produced by the internal combustion engine have an effect on air as well as on acid rain and global and regional warming. In urban regions such as London, 53% of air pollution emanates from automobile traffic. ...read more.

Middle

Bypass schemes and motorways take traffic away from urban areas, reducing pollution. Better roads also lead to shorter journey times, resulting in a massive saving for the economy as transport costs fall. However, building new roads could create problems. Shorter journey times will encourage businesses and people to make more journeys. People may switch from other forms of transport such as rail, or increase the number or length of journeys made. Therefore making more congestion on the roads. Privatising the roads can be achieved in a numerous of ways. One way would be to invite private construction companies to bid for contacts to build motorways which they would pay for, and allow them to charge tolls to motorways users. The advantage is that they can be set at levels which allow the free flow of traffic on the motorway. The higher the potential congestion the higher toll charged. Also if a stretch of motorway is too congested on a particular day or at a particular time of day, the motorway owners could charge a higher toll to relieve the congestion. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also motorists regard the roads as 'free' and would resent having to pay for them, and so there would be political backlashes. By reducing the traffic speed this will increase the level of congestion. So this may encourage car drivers to seek alternative means of transport. In the long run this should encourage individuals to switch to a non-car mode of transport, reducing car use and congestion. However, the problems of this policy are the change and the amount of time it may take for the policy to have effect. The policy will cause more problems in the short run and may therefore be ineffective in the long run. The policy may be ineffective because of the problems of finding a readily available alternative to private car use. I personally think Mr. Cristy should walk to school because he sets trends. If he walks then so will all his millions of fans, the roads will be empty! He should also transfer his credit card account to save more money. The money saved can then be ploughed back into good walking shoes and possibly a new suit! Chris Swainland 10/05/07 ...read more.

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