New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Study Finds Congestion Pricing Better at Reducing Traffic When Linked With Land-Use Planning to Broaden Transportation Options

September 22, 2011

What does it take to convince motorists to drive less -- and thereby reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions?

For some local, state, and federal policy makers, the answer typically lies in land-use planning that makes it easier for people to walk, ride bicycles, or use mass transit. But for other policy makers, congestion pricing – charging drivers more to drive in heavy-traffic areas during peak hours -- is the better way to go.

Although the two strategies for two decades have been seen by proponents as substitutive rather than complementary – and even at odds – a new study led by Zhan Guo, assistant professor of urban planning and transportation at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, has found that these fundamental approaches are actually more effective at reducing motorists’ vehicle miles traveled (VMT) when developed in concert and in connection with each other.

The conclusion arises from an examination households’  VMT data in a pilot mileage-fee program run in Portland, Oregon. The analysis sought to determine whether land-use planning reinforced the benefit of congestion pricing, and whether congestion pricing could strengthen the role of land-use planning in encouraging travelers to reduce the amount of driving they routinely do.

The data for the study were collected over 10 months from 130 households in Portland. The households studied were divided into two groups: those that faced congesting pricing, and those that did not, in order to determine the impact of congestion pricing in different types of communities.

The study found that VMT reduction is greater in traditional (dense and mixed-use) neighborhoods than it is in suburban (single use, low-density) ones, since traditional neighborhoods tend to offer more transportation options. Therefore, the researchers concluded, land-use planning is necessary to ensure that congestion pricing has an optimal effect on overall miles traveled by car, and the two strategies for reducing traffic appear to be mutually supportive, according to the study, “Are Land Use Planning and Congestion Pricing Mutually Supportive,” published in the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Guo coauthored the study with Asha Weinstein Agrawal of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and Jennifer Dill of Portland State University’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. To speak with Guo about the findings, contact NYU press officer Robert Polner at 212.998.2337 or robert.polner@nyu.edu.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Research, Transportation, Faculty, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

Congestion Pricing Better at Reducing Traffic When Linked With Land-Use Planning to Broaden Transportatiion Options

Search News



NYU In the News

Paying It Backward: NYU Alum Funds Scholarships

The Wall Street Journal profiled Trustee Evan Chesler on why he decided to chair the Momentum fund-raising campaign.

A Nobel Prize Party: Cheese, Bubbles, and a Boson

The New Yorker talked to Professor Kyle Cranmer and graduate student Sven Kreiss about NYU’s role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, which resulted in a Nobel prize for the scientists who predicted its existence.

The World as They Knew It

The New York Times reviewed the exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on how ancient Greeks and Romans mapped the known and unknown areas of their world.

Elite Institutions: Far More Diverse Than They Were 20 Years Ago

NYU made stronger gains over the last 20 years in increasing diversity than any other major research university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Program Seeks to Nurture ‘Data Science Culture’
at Universities

The New York Times reported on the multi-million collaboration among NYU and two other universities to harness the potential of Big Data, including an interview with Professor Yann LeCun, director of NYU’s Center for Data Science.

NYU Footer