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Highway congestion and congestion tolls

journal contribution
posted on 2012-06-01, 00:00 authored by Anthony E. Boardman, Lester B. Lave

Highway congestion is ubiquitous. We model the speed-flow relationship, identifying private and social costs, and the implied congestion toll for a number of proposed formulations. Using data for a limited access highway, we estimate these speed-flow relationships and find that flow as a quadratic function of speed fits best. The unit of observation is the individual vehicle and flow is measured in terms of the vehicles which passed a point shortly before or after the reference vehicle. Maximum possible flow occurs at 30–35 mph and the congestion toll is infinite for slower speeds. Rush-hour drivers have greater speeds for a given volume of traffic and thus congestion tolls must vary by time of day.


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