Thursday, December 18, 2014

Are Traffic Congestion Costs Exaggerated?

The costs of congestion reappraised (65 page pdf, Ian Wallis and David Lupton, NZ Transport Agency research report 489, Feb. 2013)

Also discussed here : The future economic and environmental costs of gridlock in 2030 - An assessment of the direct and indirect economic and environmental costs of idling in road traffic congestion to households in the UK, France, Germany and the USA (67 page pdf, Report for INRIX, Jul. 2014)

And here: How Not To Measure Traffic Congestion—Hold the Hyperbole, Please! (Planetizen, Oct. 14, 2014)

Today we review several reports that try to estimate the cost of traffic congestion in the USA, Europe, New Zealand other countries with some criticism as to how congestion is measured or perhaps exaggerated according to the definition or methods used. The recent INRIX report puts the cost for individuals in the USA at $1,740 now rising to $2,902 by 2030 which is equivalent nationally to $2.8 trillion by 2030. By comparison, in Canada the individual cost ranges from $17 to $ 270 individually for 9 urban areas, or $3B nationally.

 speed vs flow

 Key Quotes: 

“total economy-wide costs across all four advanced economies [UK, France, Germany and the USA] are forecast to rise from $200.7billion in 2013 to $293.1 billion by 2030 – a 46% increase in the costs imposed by congestion. “

“France has the highest level of congestion and the US has the lowest … The UK has the second highest level of road congestion overall… consistent with a higher road usage intensity (total vehicle miles travelled per mile of road network). The high population density in the UK is also likely to contribute to elevated congestion levels”

“At the city level, the INRIX index implies that Los Angeles and London have the highest levels of congestion. This is consistent with Los Angeles having by far the largest car commuting modal share (67%) of all the four cities consider “

“At the city level, London’s average annual hours wasted (including planning time) are forecast to rise from 252.1 hours to 299.4 hours. London is expected to see the largest percentage increase of 19% between 2013 and 2030. Across all the cities, an average increase of 24.8 hours is expected by 2030.”

“Paris has a lower relative measure of congestion. This may in part be due to a bicycle-sharing scheme that promotes cycling to work. Specifically, Paris has the largest of these schemes outside China with more than 20,000 bikes and 1,800 stations. A total of 2.4% of Parisians cycle to work.”

“London is predicted to be the city with the highest population growth of 20%, increasing from 8.4 million people in 2013 to 10.1 million by 2030… The population of projected to fall by 3% due to an ageing population and a declining birth rate…. implications for our forecasts of road transport demand, accentuated by falling levels of car ownership and the fact that older people tend to make fewer trips”

“The US has by far the highest number of passenger vehicles per capita at 787 vehicles per thousand persons and the UK has the lowest at 448 vehicles per thousand persons – 75% lower than in the US. .. the absolute number of vehicles on the roads is still expected to be higher by 2030 in all countries as a result of population growth. “

“The costs of congestion for the nine urban areas estimated with the 60% threshold were about CAN$3 billion. Montreal and Toronto accounted for 70% of the total. In per capita terms, the annual cost ranged from CAN$17 per person for Hamilton to CAN$270 per person for Toronto.”

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