Rationing and Pricing Strategies for Congestion Mitigation: Behavioral Theory, Econometric Model, and Application in Beijing

Some travel demand management policies such as road pricing have been widely studied in literature. Rationing policies, including vehicle ownership quota and vehicle usage restrictions, have been implemented in several megaregions to address congestion and other negative transportation externalities, but not well explored in literature. Other strategies such as Vehicle Mileage Fee have not been well accepted by policy makers, but attract growing research interest. As policy makers face an increasing number of policy tools, a theoretical framework is needed to analyze these policies and provide a direct comparison of their welfare implications such as efficiency and equity. However, such a comprehensive framework does not exist in literature. To bridge this gap, this study develops an analytical framework for analyzing and comparing travel demand management policies, which consists of a mathematical model of joint household vehicle ownership and usage decisions and welfare analysis methods based on compensating variation and consumer surplus. Under the assumptions of homogenous users and single time period, this study finds that vehicle usage rationing per- forms better when relatively small percentages of users (i.e. low rationing ratio) are rationed off the roads and when induced demand elasticity resulting from congestion mitigation is low. When the amount of induced demand exceeds a certain level, it is shown analytically that vehicle usage restrictions will always cause welfare losses. When the policy goal is to reduce vehicle travel by a fixed portion, road pricing provides a larger welfare gain. The performance of different policies is influenced by network congestion and congestibility. This paper further generalizes the model to consider heterogenous users and demonstrates how it can be applied for policy analysis on a real network after careful calibration.


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  • Accession Number: 01491499
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 14 2013 1:17PM