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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2020 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

A Smart Mobility Platform with Fair Congestion Pricing and Efficiently Distributed Incentives to Equitably Reduce VMT

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-20-31
Funding source: Caltrans
Contract number: 65A0674
Funding amount: $76,342
Performance period: 1/1/2021 to 12/31/2021

Project description

This project will study the benefit of considering heterogeneity of travelers in finding dynamic congestion pricing, so as to design a smart mobility platform for transportation efficiency and fair allocation of transportation supply. Transportation planning and policies in California are arriving at the conclusion that congestion pricing schemes hold the key to change the behavior of drivers and improve the efficiency of the transportation system. Fairness is also of a critical importance in the design of transportation policies. Current congestion pricing schemes may cause social barriers for low‐income populations. We reform traditional congestion pricing schemes to ensure both the efficiency of transportation systems and the fairness of congestion pricing policies. We devise a smart mobility platform where travelers who want a faster travel option pay, and travelers willing to yield his/her fastest option receive incentives. We employ envy‐theory, rather well known in Economics but only recently introduced to Transportation analysis, as a behavioral paradigm for fairness. The envy mechanism, consists of two main modules: 1) pricing module to find the optimal tolls/incentives where the individual‐ level of envy for each travel option is minimized and 2) the dynamic traffic assignment module to identify various travel options for a systemwide optimized traffic pattern. We propose expanding available sustainable transportation alternatives to investigate the potential of the mobility platform in multiple travel modes. We expect to provide a policy recommendation of fair tolls/incentives where personal vehicle drivers pay tolls for the ‘best' paths through the network, and the revenue from tolls is fairly distributed to users willing to travel on shared‐travel modes instead of personal vehicles. The research will result in utilities that can be further developed for a user‐friendly decision‐support tool for policymakers considering congestion pricing options in California and elsewhere.


R. Jayakrishnan
Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering
4055 Anteater Instruction & Research Building
Irvine, CA 92697
United States
[email protected]