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Edited by André de Palma, Robin Lindsey, Emile Quinet and Roger Vickerman
Chapter 27: Psychology and Rationality in User Behavior: The Case of Scarcity
Jonathan L. Gifford INTRODUCTION Scarcity is a common feature of transportation systems, from lack of empty seats on crowded trains, to long queues for takeoff at airport runways, to scarce land available for expanding congested urban highways, to scarce funds available for transportation improvements. Transportation professionals are often called upon to manage this scarcity. The scarcity problem is relevant in the context of transportation in a variety of ways. First, and most common for policy makers, is the scarcity of capacity of transportation facilities at peak periods. Traditionally, many transportation agencies have adhered to a ‘predict and provide’ philosophy, that is, facility capacity is provided based on a forecasted level of demand, say 20 years into the future. In recent decades, however, such an approach has become problematic for a number of reasons: public opposition to expansion of existing facilities and the construction of new facilities based on concerns about induced demand (see the chapter by Santos and Verhoef in this volume) and impacts on adjacent communities and environmentally sensitive areas. In the face of difficulties expanding or providing new capacity (that is, managing supply), transportation planners have developed techniques for transportation demand management (TDM). While, in theory, correct pricing should be capable of addressing scarcity problems comprehensively, tools such as congestion pricing and optimal pricing are not always available, at least in the short term. As a result, TDM techniques beyond pricing have garnered significant interest among planners and policy makers. In addition to transportation facilities themselves (for example,...
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