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American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 6 (October 2011)

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The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities

Article Citation

Duranton, Gilles, and Matthew A. Turner. 2011. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities." American Economic Review, 101(6): 2616-52.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.6.2616

Abstract

We investigate the effect of lane kilometers of roads on vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT) in US cities. VKT increases proportionately to roadway lane kilometers for interstate highways and probably slightly less rapidly for other types of roads. The sources for this extra VKT are increases in driving by current residents, increases in commercial traffic, and migration. Increasing lane kilometers for one type of road diverts little traffic from other types of road. We find no evidence that the provision of public transportation affects VKT. We conclude that increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion. (JEL R41, R48)

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Authors

Duranton, Gilles (U Toronto and London School of Economics)
Turner, Matthew A. (U Toronto)

JEL Classifications

R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
R48: Transportation Systems: Government Pricing; Regulatory Policies


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