Home > Transport Paradox – The Wider The Road, The More Traffic Jams

Transport Paradox – The Wider The Road, The More Traffic Jams


Perhaps during traffic jams, everyone thinks: “Why doesn’t the government open wider roads to reduce traffic jams?”. This sounds completely reasonable, the wider road will have more space for vehicles to move, and then there will be no more traffic jams. But unfortunately, things are not that simple.

Through decades of transportation data in the United States, planners have realized that widening and building roads will not improve traffic congestion. For example, the project to expand the Los Angeles I-405 highway in 2014, which cost more than 1 billion USD and 5 years to complete. “But later data shows that the current average speed on I-405 is even lower than before,” said Matthew Turner, an economist at Brown University in the US.

Mr. Turner asserts that the cause of this puzzling phenomenon is actually very simple — raising and opening roads will boost people’s mobility needs, they will start traveling more and farther than before, and that will make traffic jams more and more serious. Mr. Turner and Mr. Gilles Duranton, a colleague at the University of Pennsylvania call this the “Paradox of Transportation”: Increasing the capacity of the road will also increase traffic density.

The above paradox applies in almost every country because drivers do not have to pay to use the road. If you provide valuable resources for free, this will immediately increase demand for them.

In addition, two economists Matthew Turner and Gilles Duranton hypothesized: “The higher capacity of the road, the distance traveled on that road will increase proportionally”. If the government increases the capacity of a road by 10%, then the distance traveled will also increase by 10%. It sounds absurd, but statistical data between 1983 and 2003 on the national highway system in the US completely coincides with the above hypothesis.

In China, the government has invested heavily in upgrading the expressway system from 16,300 km in 2000 to 70,000 km in 2010, but the average travel time in Beijing in 2013 also increased from 1 hour. 30 minutes to 1 hour 55 minutes if compared to a year ago.

To make it easier for the reader to understand, consider the following example: There is a store that sells this item for 10 USD cheaper than the store near you, but that store is 10 km away. If you know that the road from your house to the cheap place is always jammed with traffic and it will take you more than an hour to get there, you will accept to buy at the store near your house. However, if the road to buy is very clear and can run quickly, you will most likely decide to buy it.

Turner and Duranton also realized that using public transport will not completely improve traffic congestion. Even if a part of people give up using personal vehicles to travel by bus or train, the saved road area will quickly be “compensated” by the new travel needs of other components.

So, how to completely solve the traffic jam?

There is only one option that has been applied and successfully reduced traffic jams, which is toll collection.

“Tolling means that the government will charge a certain fee on vehicles traveling during peak hours.” Turner said. During peak hours, the use of all private to public transportation is more expensive than at other times of the day. Currently, a number of major cities such as London, Stockholm, Singapore and Milan have applied this model and obtained many positive results.

As in central London, many areas marked “Central Area” – “Toll Road” with surveillance security cameras will cost £11.5 a day per vehicle. in the area from 07:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday.

People who are aware of the cost of roads will cut their own travel needs, or switch to traveling at less peak times, reducing the rate of traffic jams.

However, the above model also received a lot of criticism because of its drasticness. Public opinion and a part of people disagree because this toll policy is extremely disadvantageous to the poor, who cannot afford tolls.

But the road toll is also being applied by many countries and included in the price of petrol, it’s just that people usually don’t pay much attention to it. “The road toll will cause a lot of frustration and resistance when introduced, but it will be the only way to change people’s behavior and lead to a change in behavior,” said economist Turner. to end traffic jams.”

CargoLink hopes that the article will help you have a more in-depth view of the current traffic congestion in countries, especially during rush hour. Follow CargoLink to read the next interesting articles!


Reference source: Logistics4