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The Road Well-Traveled

It’s a well-documented truth that long commutes are bad for both the environment and emotional well-being of the commuter. So policy interventions aimed at reducing traffic and, by extension, commuting time have the potential to significantly improve welfare. A new paper by Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner evaluates two frequently proposed solutions to the problem and finds both lacking. Duranton and Turner find that highway kilometers traveled actually increases proportionately to highways. Provision of public transportation has no effect on kilometers traveled. The authors conclude that, “an increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion and that the current provision of roads exceeds the optimum given the absence of congestion pricing.” [%comments]