Worsening highway traffic slows down paid express lanes
Rebecca Beitsch at Stateline (republished at PBS Newshour) wrote Worsening highway traffic slows down paid express lanes. I get quoted:
What Are They Paying For? As tolls have climbed around the country, researchers have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Rather than deterring drivers, as they are supposed to, higher prices tend to attract them.
David Levinson, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said that when express tolls rise, many drivers take it as a sign that regular lanes are congested, rather than realizing that it means that the express lanes are especially crowded.
Levinson said people aren’t good at estimating how much time they’re saving by taking the express lane, and assume they are saving a lot because they are passing other cars. In fact, they may end up paying a high price for just a few minutes.
Even so, Levinson views the overwhelming popularity of express lanes as a positive development.
“If people are willingly paying lots of money voluntarily for this service it must be a valuable service,” he said. “That’s a success not a failure.”
The paper referred to is:
Janson, M. and D. Levinson (2014) HOT or Not: Driver Elasticity to Price on the MnPASS HOT Lanes. Research in Transport Economics 44 21-32. [doi]