Tag: traffic policy

Traffic congestion is both frustrating and costly. As The Economist article below states:

Congestion does more than irritate drivers. It makes employees and deliveries late, it snarls up modern “just-in-time” supply chains and it clogs up labour markets by making commuting difficult. The cost of all this is almost impossible to measure. But a big review of transport carried out by Rod Eddington, a one-time boss of British Airways, put the cost between £7 billion and £8 billion ($10.6-$12.2 billion) a year.

So what can be done about it? The report, published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), looks at various solutions. These range from staggering work times, car sharing and working from home, to improving roads and road pricing.

As economists we should look at the relative costs and benefits of alternative solutions in coming to sensible policy solutions. The problem is that people are often very emotional about traffic schemes. They may complain about sitting in traffic jams, but don’t want to pay to tackle the problem. There is thus a political element in any debate about solutions. Not surprisingly, the government has shied away from introducing road pricing

So what are the best solutions to traffic congestion and how do we overcome the political obstacles? The following articles look at these questions.

CBI urge radical changes to avoid gridlocked roads Independent, Peter Woodman (15/3/10)
Bunged up The Economist (15/3/10)
Road travel ‘needs big overhaul’ to avoid gridlock BBC News (15/3/10)
CBI sets out case for road pricing Logistics Manager (16/3/10)
CBI urges change to work patterns to avoid road gridlock Business Financial Newswire (15/3/10)
Road tolls ‘essential’ to avoid gridlock autoblog UK, Nic Cackett (15/3/10)

Tackling congestion, driving growth CBI (March 2010)


  1. Why does the market fail to achieve the socially optimal amount and pattern of road use?
  2. What externalities are involved in road use?
  3. What are the arguments for and against increased road building as the solution to traffic congestion?
  4. Assess the arguments for and against road pricing
  5. If increasing use is to be made of road pricing, what is the best form for road pricing to take?
  6. Why is road pricing ‘lethal’ for politicians?
  7. Assuming you were in government and were acutely aware of how your policies might be perceived by the public and the press, what would you do about traffic congestion?