NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US cities

Gilles Duranton, Matthew A. Turner

NBER Working Paper No. 15376
Issued in September 2009
NBER Program(s):   EEE

We investigate the relationship between interstate highways and highway vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) in US cities. We find that VKT increases proportionately to highways and identify three important sources for this extra VKT: an increase in driving by current residents; an increase in transportation intensive production activity; and an inflow of new residents. The provision of public transportation has no impact on VKT. We also estimate the aggregate city level demand for VKT and find it to be very elastic. We conclude that an increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15376

Published: Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2011. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2616-52, October.

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