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Guide to Calculating Mobility Management Benefits Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Roadway Cost Savings Roadway costs are the costs to build and operate road facilities, including land, construction, maintenance, and traffic services such as policing and emergency response (this section refers primarily to direct financial costs; indirect, environmental and social costs of sprawl are discussed later in the land use impacts section).

Roadway Cost Savings Subcategories

  • Roadway construction cost savings (to the degree that roadway projects are avoided).

  • Roadway maintenance cost savings.

  • Roadway operating costs savings, including traffic services such as policing and emergency


Nearly any reduction in vehicle travel reduces roadway operating costs. Strategies that target urban peak travel tend to provide particularly large savings by reducing the need to expand urban highways (a congestion cost). Conventional transport planning gives considerable consideration to roadway construction costs, but ongoing operation costs are often overlooked, for example when transport pricing reforms are evaluated.

Table 5

Roadway Cost Savings Effectiveness

Most Effective

Moderate Effects

Least Effective

Negative Impacts

Commute trip reduction Congestion pricing

Freight transport management Marketing programs

Parking management & pricing Rideshare programs

Transit improvements and encouragement

Walking & cycling improvements



Distance-based fees

Fuel tax increases

Taxi service improvements Nonmotorized promotion

Smart growth Location-efficient

Telework HOV priority

Tourist transport management

development Carfree planning Traffic calming

Transit oriented development

Increased land use density may increase unit costs (cost per lane- mile), although per capita costs do not necessarily increase if total roadway- miles are reduced.

This table identifies how various mobility management strategies affect road and parking facility costs.

Various cost allocation (also called cost responsibility) studies have examined the costs of building and maintaining roadways, estimated the share of these costs imposed by different vehicle classes, and calculated optimal user fees (FHWA 1997; “Roadway Costs,” Litman 2009). These studies indicate that U.S. vehicle user fees only pay about 65% of roadway costs. Local and property taxes fund the rest. Most roadway cost allocation studies only account for costs included in roadway agency budgets, and tend to overlook costs for traffic policing, street lighting, and emergency response, and the opportunity costs of roadway land. Urban roadway costs tend to be relatively high, so reducing urban-peak trips tends to provide relatively large savings. Including these factors tends to increase mobility management benefits.


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