This paper describes how traffic congestion—both in perception and in reality—impacts the movement of people and freight and is deeply tied to the history of high levels of accessibility and mobility. Along spatial and temporal dimensions, traffic congestion has been around since ancient Rome; it wastes time and energy, causes pollution and stress, decreases productivity and imposes costs on society equal to 2-3% of the gross national product (GDP). In terms of technology, it was that an automobile is “a conveyance which is capable of moving 1.6 km (a mile) a minute, yet the average speed of traffic in large cities is around 17.7 km/h or 11 mph.” The paper describes how in 2002, it was estimated that congestion wastes $63.2 billion in 75 metropolitan areas during 2002 because of extra time lost and fuel consumed, or about $829 per person. Some people refer to these kinds of estimates as misleading since the prospect of eliminating all congestion during peak periods is only a myth; congestion could never be completely eliminated. While some research emphasizes that rush hour is longer than an hour in the morning and more than an hour in the evening, few people are rushing anywhere, and others say that gridlock is not going to happen because people change what they do long before the gridlock occurs. Some view congestion as a problem that individual drivers are subjected to, while others emphasize that the users of transportation networks not only experience congestion, they create it. The paper shows that most people make travel decisions based on an expectation of experiencing a certain amount of congestion; while few consider the costs their trips impose on others by adding to the congestion. The objective of this paper is to discuss current definitions of metropolitan traffic congestion and ways that it is currently measures. In addition, the accuracy and reliability of these measures will be described along with a review of how congestion has been changing over the past few decades.

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DOIS: 10.1108/9780080460550-002 10.1016/b978-008044678-3/50062-4

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Published on 01/01/2005

Volume 2005, 2005
DOI: 10.1108/9780080460550-002
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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