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Road congestion.

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ROAD CONGESTION NICOLA ACTON 13JLB 'The increase in congestion on Britain's roads is an example of market failure' A) Why has there been an increase in congestion on British roads? B) Explain the term market failure and explain why road congestion is an example. C) Explain the method of road pricing and give both the advantages and disadvantage of road pricing as a way of dealing with the congestion problem. <A> The underlying causes of congestion are far more complicated than many traditional interests have historically been willing to admit. The ability of available roadway space-the most traditional method of measuring supply or capacity to meet traffic demand, is just one of a set of several underlying factors that research has found contribute to traffic congestion. Whereas more than half of all children walked or bicycled to school in the 1950s, that number has now fallen below 10 percent as streets have become more dangerous due to traffic. Combined with the loss of school bus service, the resulting trend has been an overwhelming increase in parents driving their children to school, clogging local roadways during critical peak hours. An estimated 20-25 percent of rush hour traffic on local streets and roads is now attributable to the school commute. To make matters worse, not only does the typical suburban development model characterized by low-density cul-de-sacs, wide, high-speed arterials, and massive intersections make traffic management difficult, ...read more.


Removing just 5% of traffic at peak times could substantially reduce or even eliminate rush hour congestion from many cities. One approach that is starting to stoke interest among municipal leaders is road pricing. The theory seems sound enough: introduce a price on bringing cars into congested areas that incite drivers either not to travel unnecessarily or to vary their times of travel or, indeed, to try public transport, walking or cycling. With the right approach, drivers who incur higher prices during rush hour periods would benefit from reduced congestion and travel time, while nonessential travel would take place at less congested and cheaper times. Road pricing has been debated in political circles for many years. The main debate was about the difficulties that would occur in trying to impose a system in order to toll drivers. These problems no longer exist, and advances in electronic devices have made sophisticated road pricing schemes more feasible. The new technology of electronic tolls no longer requires motorists to halt at tollbooths. Therefore, it prevents additional congestion. Drivers would be given an electronic number plate, which signals to the recording computer the presence of a vehicle. This would be the most direct way to charge the amount specific to the road and the time of the day. The devise could charge users via bank account or monthly bill. ...read more.


Economists would argue that the profits made should be reinvested into the transportation system to generate an efficient outcome rather than cross-subsidising other traffic modes or other state activities. CONCLUSION In conclusion I believe that road pricing is the best instrument to internalise the costs of congestion and road damage. Although the initial costs of installation are high, these costs would probably quickly be exceeded by the efficiency gains of corrected prices. Nevertheless, road pricing cannot perfectly internalise external environmental costs. That is why instruments like "fuel taxation" or "emission fees" will still be necessary to design an optimal price mechanism in the transportation sector that sets the correct incentives. I believe pricing could be the trick to remove that 5-10% of traffic that causes congestion in peak periods in our cities. If that means picking up the children on time and being able to drive into city centres to shop, then surely that would be a price worth paying. Finally, what's perhaps most important is a recognition that solving these problems will require strong leadership from a government level in addition to management, planning and eventual implementation at the regional and local levels. Traffic congestion must thus be tackled within a broader context of economic, environmental and social goals and its solutions must be compatible and work in support of solutions for a broader range of issues. ...read more.

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