Traffic congestion is one of the major problems that many cities are facing.  “There are three main components of the growth of traffic on urban roads which has taken place in recent years; an increased demand for personal travel into and through city centre areas; a growth in the number of goods vehicles on the roads; and a transfer of passengers from public transport to private car.”

Norwich is not an exception.  In the centre of the city, the problem is more than obvious.  “In response to the exhibitions in February of 1990, congestion was identified as the major problem facing Norwich followed by environmental issues and then parking.”  The future is disturbing; “forecasts show that vehicle trips will rise by 55% in 2006.  This growth in traffic is mainly due to greater wealth - more people buy cars, more of their income is spent on petrol and more people move out of the cities and further away from their jobs”.  It is also noteworthy that “Norwich has an average speed during peak hours of 12.5 mph which is only 1.5 mph faster than in inner London.  Norwich also has a high level of traffic accidents involving personal injuries.  Every year there are 4.3 personal injury accidents per kilometre on major roads.  In Ipswich, the comparable figure is 1.5”.

In order to reduce traffic congestion in the centre of Norwich, the city council can adopt many different measures.  Some of them are more effective and some require some changes in the area of Norwich before they can actually function while others can be put into effect immediately.  However, they all aim to reduce the traffic congestion.  The question that arises is which measures are the most appropriate for Norwich.

The easiest solution to congestion, according to laymen is to build new highways and add more lanes to existing ones.  This notion is very superficial and can not be taken seriously into account.  Norwich is a town with many old buildings and a style that does not create a modern city.  Most of the houses are private houses, not higher than three flours, with their own gardens.  An attempt to build new highways would spoil the beauty of the town and would make it like an ordinary city without any speciality. In addition to that, “more roads simply encourage more people to use their cars, to live farther away from work and thus use more road space.”

Before examining the measures that can be adopted, the different types of costs that result from the operation of a road system must be identified.

Operating costs are the costs of running motor vehicles. (E.g., fuel, tyres etc).  Track costs comprise the costs of providing the road system (E.g., maintenance, depreciation, and administration).  Congestion costs are the costs that road users impose on other road users (E.g., delay, and higher operating costs).  Other intangible costs. These are losses imposed on the community by road users (E.g., fumes, noise, and accident risk).

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Alternatively, costs may be arranged according to the persons or firms on whom they fall and by whom they are paid, either by a money payment or in some other way.  Such a classification however, raises the problem of the discrimination between private and social cost.  “Social cost is the total cost resulting from any economic operation whether it is borne by the person or firm undertaking the operation or by other persons or firms in the community who suffer losses for which they are not compensated.  Thus private cost may occasionally be equal to social cost but only when ...

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