Monday, February 20, 2006

Gulfnews: Dubai's authorities plan to address the city's traffic problem

Very common headline here in the UAE.

Some recent thoughts on traffic congestion from Becker and Posner. Pretty standard stuff amongst the economics clan.

Becker:
The optimal way to induce drivers to take account of the congestion they cause to others is to charge them fees for driving during congested periods that would vary with the degree of the congestion. So these fees would be higher during rush hours than during other hours of the day, and they would be lower on weekends when traffic is generally lighter than on weekdays. Fees should be greater when it is raining or snowing since congestion is greater with bad weather, in part because driving is slowed down by the weather, and in part because more people decide to drive rather than walk or take public transportation when it rains.
Posner:
The political obstacles to commuting fees have persuaded the traffic economist Richard Arnott that more attention should be paid to substitute methods of reducing traffic congestion. A good deal of congestion is due to commuters hunting for parking places and to trucks blocking streets while unloading, as well as to bad driving (for example leading to more accidents), increased vehicle size (e.g., SUVs), poor road surfaces, road repairs, poor road design, weather, and bottlenecks. The problem is that any measure that reduces congestion without imposing any additional cost on the commuter will, as I mentioned, tend to increase the amount of traffic as commuters and other drivers switch from public transportation to cars or make less effort to avoid rush-hour traffic.
The Straight Drop brings you the "fear of flaming death" theory of traffic congestion.

UPDATE: Dubai issues a driving guide "in an effort to help motorists adopt a unified driving culture, said a senior official." Addressing the Crash of Cultures, I guess. But they may have a point - as I've said before, variance kills. Ties in with the "fear of flaming death" theory of traffic congestion perhaps.

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