Monday, September 16, 2013

Measuring and Reducing Traffic Congestion

Smart Congestion Relief - Comprehensive Evaluation Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Strategies(47 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Aug. 28, 2013) congestion measures
Today we review a report from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute that analyses various measures of congestion and the economic and other costs in various strategies to reduce congestion. The author emphasizes the need to include all aspects and both short and long term impacts when selecting an optimum strategy or strategies. Increasing road infrastructure, for example, will reduce congestion in the short term but also increases annual maintenance costs, parking costs and pollution levels while road pricing tends to decrease all three impacts.  

Key Quotes:

“Traffic congestion refers to the additional delay and vehicle operating costs caused by interactions among vehicles on a roadway, particularly as traffic volumes approach a road’s capacity. “

“Win-win congestion reduction strategies include:
  • Improvements to alternative modes….
  • Bus and high-occupant vehicle (HOV) priority lanes and signal controls, …
  • Efficient transport pricing, including congestion pricing
  • Smart growth land use policies that create more compact and multi-modal …
  • Transportation demand management (TDM) programs that encourage users to choose the most efficient option for each trip, including commute trip reduction programs, mobility management marketing and transportation management associations. …”
“Commonly-used performance indicators such as roadway level-of-service and the travel time index, only measure congestion intensity, that is, the reductions in vehicle traffic speeds on particular roads; they do not account for factors that affect the amount that residents must drive during peak periods and therefore their total congestion costs “

“Cities are places that emphasize proximity over mobility.” “Most studies conclude that motorists are willing to pay, on average, 25-50% of wages for reduced congestion delay….The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends valuing personal travel time at 35% to 60% of prevailing incomes, or $8.37 to $14.34 per hour ”

“Since congestion pricing was introduced in central London in 2003, vehicle trips into the congestion pricing zone have declined by 17%, and congestion, measured as person-hours of delay per mile traveled, has fallen by 26%. “
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