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Coping with Congestion:  Understanding the Gap between Policy Assumptions and Behavior

UCD-ITS-RP-97-11

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Suggested Citation:
Salomon, Ilan and Patricia L. Mokhtarian (1997) Coping with Congestion:  Understanding the Gap between Policy Assumptions and Behavior. Transportation Research Part D 2 (2), 107 - 123

With congestion being a major social and environmental cost of urban and metropolitan transportation, it has become a major target for policy-makers and planners. However, policies to curb congestion have had little effect. It is suggested that there is a wide gap between the assumptions which underlie policy measures and the manner in which individual users perceive and, consequently, respond to policy measures. This gap can partially be explained by the fact that the set of alternative responses to growing congestion is wider and somewhat different from that assumed by policy-makers. Moreover, the distributional impacts of various responses are such that their benefits and costs, as perceived by the user, create barriers to adoption. The dynamics of the behavioral response are also often overlooked by policy-makers, resulting in the promulgation of measures which have little or no effect on users' behavior. This paper reviews 16 possible behavioral responses from a coping strategy perspective, and emphasizes their distributional impacts. Finally, the paper analyzes some of the implications of the gap between policy-making and user response.