Traffic congestion ranks high on everyone’s list of pressing social problems that call for an effective policy response. This presentation puts congestion in context by providing a brief overview of the U.S. transportation system and points out that congestion affects travelers and, more importantly, the efficiency of non-transport sectors of the economy, such as labor markets and trade flows. We illustrate this point by quantifying the adverse effects of congestion on the performance of the California economy and argue that the introduction of autonomous vehicles represents the only credible solution to reducing those large social costs. Working paper forthcoming.
*This paper was written for the Marron Institute Conference on Self-Driving Vehicles, which took place on May 28 & 29, 2015 and was convened with support from Google.
Photo courtesy of Shawn Hoke.