Great article today on a study suggesting that traffic congestion is created by the marginal driver, and more interesting, from the marginal driver from specific and predictable locations. Maybe 1% of commuters leaving from specific neighborhoods have a big increase on traffic congestion and commute time for everyone. The link to the study is here.
We dealt with this in the demand response market for energy. With regulators 10-15 years ago creating free markets enabling companies to sell a reduction of energy demand to the power companies instead of increase generation.
We dealt with this in the carbon, Renewable Energy Credit, and Acid rain sphere by creating cap and trade style mechanisms enabling the rest of the market to pay some marginal actors just enough for them to drop out first.
There are bars that change the price of beer based on demand.
The stock market handles real time demand pricing every day.
Why not for traffic? Hammer congestion and air pollution. Create localized markets where the transit or roads authority, like Caltrans, TexDOT, or the local air district, instead of spending my tax dollars only on new roads, infrastructure, or regulations, used cellphone apps to pay a few dollars to commuters who would drop out of the critical commute paths at the right times. Perhaps credits on your toll road account? The more who apply, the less each make? Compliance tracked against your cellphone GPS? A thousand ways to address the myriad technical issues with payments, tracking, compliance, verification, and additionality.
Small investment, massive social, environmental and economic benefits.