Policy Brief Series on the Relationships Among Congestion, Road Pricing, Density and Transit Ridership

Research Lead: Michael Manville

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: In California, driving is cheap and housing is expensive, and both these facts impede the state’s progress toward environmental sustainability, safety and affordability. Efforts to solve these problems, however, often operate on parallel tracks: bold plans to increase housing production say little about congestion, and plans to address congestion rarely discuss the housing crisis. While these omissions are often understandable, they create a situation where policy proposals to solve one problem often founder on concerns about the other one. Proposals to allow more development, even near transit, encounter resistance from neighbors concerned that development will bring congestion. Similarly, proposals to price roads encounter resistance based on the concern that California is already extremely expensive, and people have to live far from where they work because of the housing crisis. Somehow this policy gridlock must be resolved, if California will meet its stated goals of reducing vehicle miles traveled, reducing emissions, and building millions of housing units.

Project Description: This project will clarify the relationships between congestion, road pricing, density and transit ridership. The lead researcher’s work over the past five years has addressed all of these issues, but the work exists mostly in the form required of academic journals. This work will address the concerns of California policymakers as congestion pricing is being proposed.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $27,603