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Journal Article / Transport

Voting on Road Congestion Policy

Author(s): RUSSO Antonio

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This paper studies the political economy of urban traffic policy. A city council and a regional government (representing city and suburbs) decide respectively on parking fees and a road toll. Both charges are below the optimum when median voters in city and suburbs prefer cars to public transport sufficiently more than the average. Even if the city government would set an optimal road toll, the regional government blocks it when the median suburban voter prefers cars strongly enough. Letting the city control parking and road pricing may therefore increase chances of adoption of the latter. However, if the city controls parking and the region road pricing, the combined charges are higher than if the city controlled them both. Hence, when voters want all charges below the optimum, the involvement of two governments may be desirable. We also find that earmarking road pricing revenues for public transport is welfare-enhancing, compared to lump-sum redistribution, only if they are topped up by extra funds granted to the city by a higher level of government.