Jam Busters

Here is a sobering thought: it is estimated that there are more than 750m vehicles on the planet, and that this mechanical population is swelling by more than 50m newcomers each year.

At the current rate, the total number of cars on the road will double by 2025. All those vehicles need to go somewhere – but, increasingly, they don't.

While the combustion engine brings movement to the masses, and gives us the freedom of choice to live and work where we want, it also regularly leaves us gridlocked, sitting impotent and immobile in traffic jams, gently simmering in our own frustration.

Congestion is nothing new. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of horse-and-cart jams in the ruins of Pompeii. But, health implications aside, traffic congestion is more than ever having a huge economic impact. In the UK, jams cost the national purse £20bn-£30bn a year. In car-addicted America, where each year the driving population cumulatively spends around 500,000 years stuck in traffic, the congestion cost is around $100bn (£65bn).

In Moscow, now regarded as the most congested business city in the world, jams cost some $12bn a year, and the city would need to build 400 more kilometres of road to ease the 650 jams that happen each day. In the face of this global gridlock, road planners and traffic controllers are increasingly turning to science for solutions.

As far back as the 1950s, mathematician Sir Michael James Lighthill was using wave theory to understand the complexities of traffic flow and interaction. Today the traffic-science sector attracts computer programmers, engineers and even astronomers, along with traditional mathematicians. With a tsunami of new motor vehicles already sweeping across developing nations such as China and India, and road capacity full in Europe and America, research into road-network optimisation is vital to keep the planet moving.

Today's jambusters arm themselves with powerful computer-simulation tools to construct virtual highways containing thousands of virtual vehicles which interact with each other and gives clues as to why seemingly random congestion occurs. Although roads carrying vehicles at a certain density will always become congested, traffic scientists puzzled for years over those annoying jams that occur on free-flowing roads for no apparent reason. In the mid-Nineties, researchers in the US first built simulations which mirrored this effect. Within the computer programme, virtual cars would organise themselves spontaneously into distinctive patterns. Other models found a similar effect, where vehicle flows turned suddenly sluggish and stopped, as if they had crystallised. The commonly held view was that these patterns were caused by sheer weight of traffic.

Boris Kerner, a researcher working at the Daimler Chrysler Research Centre in Germany, studied the traffic state between freely flowing cars and a full-scale traffic jam, which he called "synchronised traffic flow". He discovered that on carriageways where the traffic was moving in this manner vehicles appeared to have jelled into a type of unified, moving mass. This condition allowed waves of dense traffic to pass upstream along a motorway. More recently, a team of mathematicians from the University of Exeter discovered that these congestion waves were not due to sheer weight of traffic, but were down to driver action.

The Exeter team developed a computer model that simulated the impact of unexpected events on motorways, such as lorries changing lanes. They discovered that under certain conditions, when cars are bunched in a specific density and travelling at a specific speed, a single driver over-reacting can set off a braking shockwave that will build momentum and travel back along a motorway for miles.

As the initial driver brakes, the car behind has to brake, and so on until cars bunch into clumps and stop-start congestion develops. Eventually, several miles back, traffic grinds to halt. The process is akin to an automotive butterfly effect, where a nervy tap of the brake pedal on the M1 at Luton can cause someone to miss an appointment in Milton Keynes an hour later.

Researchers in Japan observed a similar "wave" pattern when they put 22 vehicles on a 23-metre, single-lane circuit and asked drivers to cruise steadily at 30km an hour. Initially the traffic moved freely, but small fluctuations soon appeared in distances between cars and built into larger pockets of congestion. These clusters, which scientists call "jamitons", spread backwards through the traffic like a shock wave. Scientists studying the same phenomenon at MIT in the US discovered that "jamitons" share similar characteristics to the detonation waves created by explosions.

Of course, scientific theory is not always needed to explain gridlock. The causes of some jams, such as the recent 100km queue in China, which snared drivers for days on the main north-south motorway to Beijing, are easily identified. That monster jam was blamed on roadworks, a broken-down car and an overload of trucks carrying coal from Mongolia to the capital. Stranded drivers struggled to travel two miles a day and the queue generated its own economy, with industrious hawkers selling provisions to motorists at vastly inflated prices.

Thanks to its breakneck development, Beijing is now one of the top global traffic hotspots along with Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Moscow, London, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

According to Tim Rees, head of traffic behaviour at research and development consultancy Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), major city road layouts have a lot to answer for. "Any city serviced by motorways which merge as they approach it will be prone to congestion," he says. "When traffic merges vehicles have a tendency to cut across lanes moving into gaps in the traffic flow, causing drivers behind to slow or brake. That leads to a ripple effect which can stretch back 20 miles. Ideally, to alleviate this type of effect, drivers should stay on the inside lane for a mile or so after merging with motorway traffic – but that rarely happens."

TRL developed the traffic management system that controls the flow on the London orbital M25 motorway. This system, one of the most advanced in the world, uses real-time data collected from monitors on the carriageway and analysed by TRL experts to set strategic variable speed limits to try to alleviate problems before they materialise. As traffic builds to conditions where waves are likely to form, controllers set speed limits to regulate traffic flow at either 60mph or 50mph. Further back, a 40mph limit is set at the rear of the predicted congestion zone to help regulate traffic through it.

However, even with the best technology in the world, sometimes demand on roads is just too high and jams are unavoidable. Theoretically, in order to keep a constant flow of 60mph, the ideal number of cars on a road should be between 1,800 and 2,000 per lane, per hour. On a four-lane stretch of the M25 this would mean 8,000 cars per lane per hour. With up to 200,000 vehicles a day during busy periods, demand far exceeds supply.

Solutions to the global gridlock problem are myriad, and range from the sublime to the ridiculous. On the M42 a "hard-shoulder running" pilot scheme, whereby the hard shoulder was opened to alleviate congestion, proved successful and greatly reduced journey times and congestion.

TRL have also looked into the possibility of sending out vehicles, like the pace cars in motor racing, to slow traffic down before congestion builds on busy motorway section. Restricting road use by banning certain motorists from driving one day a week, depending on their car registration number, is used in China. Engineers there are also developing an electric bus on stilts that will carry 1,400 people and run on rails, allowing cars to drive underneath it.

However, according to Gabor Orosz, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan and one of the architects of the Exeter University study, the solutions lie in marrying macro-level systems, like the M25 variable speed limit system, with micro-level technology built into cars.

He says: "In our research we discovered there is a region between a smooth-flowing state and a jam state where congestion build-up depends on the driver behaviour. This region is typified by between 15 and 50 cars per kilometre depending on conditions and here, congestion waves are likely to be caused if a driver brakes too hard. This is the region where we can do the most for traffic in terms of controls and regulations.

"We realised that if you build radar into the bumper of a car and have an on-board computer that can control braking and acceleration, you can control the car through this type of traffic profile to optimise the chances of avoiding congestion. We tell the computer how to drive and the computer reaction time is much faster and more proportionate than a human's. It is like an auto-pilot system, but with limited capability. We call it Automatic Cruise Control. In theory an ACC car would get to a congestion area and signage would advise the driver to enable the ACC, which would take the driver smoothly through the zone."

Until we can entrust our computer-controlled cars to smooth out the traffic however, the best advice scientists have to alleviate jams is to drive smoothly and steadily. Alternatively, of course, you could just take the train.

Source: The Independent


Cheating in the Transport examination

It's sad that with all the help, all the resources and all the expert tuition available people still want to - and are still able to - cheat in the examination.

A few days ago I met a student who showed me the texts he received from a student doing an AS Economics exam. It was the final question in Unit 2. The student then texted back the detailed answer. He had no qualms in showing me this as he knew that a) as I didn't work at the school they b) would not listen to me as it would reflect badly on them and c) I could never prove it anyway. he added that the invigilator 'often went drinking with the pupils' - which may, of course, be irrelevant.

Yesterday's Transport exam was travelling via mobile phones at 10 am with texts going out looking for answers. Here's how you do it.

Take 3 mobile phones into the exam.

hand one in then say 'Oh, I forgot, here's my second one'. That makes it certain you will not be searched for the third. Also say that 'owing to exam nerves ' you have diahorrea.

Ten minutes into the exam go to the toilet. be fairly quick as all you are doing is texting out the question.

Then 1 hour later go to the toilet again (as you have diahorrea) and read through the answers to check against what you have written.

In the Transport paper one student went to the toilet for 20 minutes (!!!) and then came back and wrote loads.

It's so easy - and so preventible!


As has been pointed out....

....the exam paper was revealed here some time ago. Only ONE of those who comment managed to find it...

Oh well



london congestion charge
rail freight
air skies policy/sustainable transport
types of competition/contestability



Mocks – 1

Do ONE of the following:

1. (a) explain how the theoretical treatment of perfect competition is useful in analysing transport markets. (10 mks)

(b) Apply the natural monopoly argument to transport. (15 mks)

2. a) What are the special characteristics of air travel? (10 mks)

b) Examine the impact of deregulation on air transport. (15 mks)

3. a) Outline the main transport problems facing the government (10 mks)

b) Government transport policy is set out in White Papers and is built round various themes. Explain the themes and the transport policy. (15 mks)

Mock 2

1. a) Outline the main characteristics of transport investment. (10 mks)

b) Discuss the arguments for and against the PFI. (15 mks)

2. a) Why should aviation pay for its external costs? (10 mks)

b) Examine the difficulties in estimating externalities and identify two alternative methods used to estimate externalities. (15 mks)

3. a) Describe how transport poses sustainability issues. (10 mks)

b) Evaluate the economic argument for subsidising railways (15 mks)

Mock 3

1. a) Government measures to intervene in transport markets to correct market failure can be classified as demand or supply side. Identify and briefly explain at least SIX demand side policies. (10 mks)

b) Explain supply side policies and, with reference to at least THREE supply side policies in other countries to tackle congestion, compare supply side to demand side policies in terms of effectiveness. (15 mks)

2. a) Outline the main characteristics of transport investment. (10 mks)

b) Discuss the arguments for and against the PFI. (15 mks)

3. a) Outline the main barriers to entry in transport. (10 mks)

b) With reference to contestable market theory, explain how making markets contestable benefits the consumer. (15 mks)


Introduction:say what you're going to say

Middle: say it

Conclusion: say that you have said it, provide a judgement and add one other point

Here is an excellent presentation on WEESTEPS...

So if you were going to evaluate the London Congestion Charge (nudge, nudge) then you would refer collectively to the evidence you have prsented, make a judgement and then add one further point.

Thus if you had an essay about freight rail (nudge, nudge) then you would look at the usage from the business view, look at the costs, reliability but in the conclusion add the point that not all businesses are profit maximisers. (That's an example of a final point.)

Very important to always keep your eye on the clock too.


Can you do these?

(a) Explain the main conclusions of the Eddington transport study (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the ways of producing a more sustainable freight transport policy (20 mks)

(a) Explain the objectives of transport policy in the UK (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the challenges for government in trying to implement a sustainable transport policy (20 mks)

(a) Explain a) the user benefits and b) the costs of Crossrail (15 mks)

(b) Using and Appraisal Summary Table explain a multi-criteria approach to new road schemes (20 mks)

(a) Using a diagram, explain the benefits to users of a new road (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate COBA as a means of appraising new motorways and trunk roads (20 mks)

(a) Explain the role of private and public sectors in resource allocation (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate PPP as a means of funding expansion in Transport (20 mks)

(a) Explain the main arguments for public transport subsidies payments (15 mks)

(b) Discuss whether air transport growth should be controlled?

(a) Explain how road pricing has differed between countries. (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the use of road user charging as a means of reducing traffic congestion (20 mks)

(a) Explain the reasons behind the privatisation of various businesses in the transport industry (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the arguments for the privatisation of British Rail (20 mks)

(a) Explain the EU Open Skies policy (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the effects of deregulation on the airline industry (20 mks)

(a) Explain the difference between contestability and competition (15 mks)

(b) Evaluate the transport relevance of contestability (20 mks)

(a) Explain the different market structures in the transport industry (15)

(b) Evaluate the transport relevance of monopoly/monopolistic/oligopolistic competition (20)

(a) Explain – with examples – the importance of economies of scale in the transport industry (15)

(b) Discuss the different aims and objectives of firms in the transport industry (20)

(a) Explain how forecasting road traffic demand is carried out (15)

(b) Evaluate the importance of transport to the UK and other economies (20)

(a) Explain the factors that affect the demand for transport (15)

(b) With reference to recent trends in transport demand explain why traffic forecasts are useful (20)


Revision notes

Task: How can congested roads be rationed?
Congested road space can be rationed/controlled by:
1. Queuing: the resultant traffic jams waste time and generate pollution

2. Regulation: banning some motorists from driving e.g. Florence bans cars from their narrowest streets or pedestrian central shopping areas;

3. Price: allocating road space to those who value it most – ignoring income distribution and equity issues

Task: What are the consequences of road pricing?
Road pricing or congestion charging results in:
1. Government revenues generated for subsidising public transport - if hypothecated;

2. Increased transport costs - inflationary pressure and a loss of competitiveness;

3. Little impact on journeys - undertaken by car as demand for peak time road usage is price inelastic because of absence of substitutes;

4. Equity issues - congestion charges are a regressive tax and so are unfair as low income groups are excluded;

5. Implementation issues – efficient toll collection requires a robust and expensive infrastructure;
6. Road pricing encourages consumers to switch to relatively cheaper substitutes.
Task: Explain the polluter pays principle?
The polluter pays principle means polluters should be taxed the amount of their externality e.g. road charging i.e. Pigou tax.

This is done by setting: an indirect tax equal to the marginal external cost (EMC) – this means the government is forcing producers and consumers internalise the externalities – (the polluter pays principle)

However it is difficult to estimate externality and expensive to collect the tax e.g. road charging; this requires expensive extensive IT infrastructure able to read number plates of thousands of cars in all weather conditions.

Task Explain the policy options for combating/ overcoming congestion?
A. Through Increased Supply by:
1. Build more roads- new roads generate extra traffic. New roads are unsustainable;

2. Enable constant traffic speed to reduce congestion;

3. Improve existing roads e.g. variable Road humps; Improve traffic light;

4. Prevent lorries overtaking using the fast lanes.

B. Through Reduced demand by:
1. Congestion charging equals to EMC.

2. Workplace parking charge

3. More/improved park & ride schemes

4. Improve public transport capacity & quality

5. Subsidise substitutes e.g. increase subsidies or offer tax relief on train/bus season tickets

6. Use planning regulations to halt new out-of-town super stores and build houses near work

7. Encourage tele-working where employees work from home through tax incentives

8. Quotas to limit car owned by individuals.

Task: Explain the term subsidy.
A subsidy is a grant given by the government to producers to lower their cost of production by encouraging more production or consumption of a particular good or service.

Task: Why subsidise railways?
Subsidies can be justified on social equity grounds:
1. low-income groups are now more able to afford public transport and loss making but socially essential services maintained.

2. New transport infrastructure offers positive externalities encouraging new firms and jobs to commuters

Task: Is road transport sustainable?
Road transport is least sustainable because it consumes fossil fuels, creates pollution and congestion at peak times and the road network has a significant impact on land use.

However the degree of unsustainability depends on the:
1. Size of the vehicle and the amount & source of energy used.
2. Place time and distance travelled Urban travel in city centres during peak times is less sustainable
3. Occupancy of the vehicles. Well occupied cars are more sustainable than several driver only cars

To inform policy and enable evaluation, the government monitors four stated objectives of sustainable development.
Task: How is sustainability maintained?
1. Effective protection of the environment - Increased transport and associated negative externalities damage the environment;

2. Prudent use of natural resources - transport consumes natural resources;

3. Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment - contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP)

4. Social progress that recognises the needs of everyone - cheaper transport means more people have opportunities to travel to further away places.

Task: Is congestion charging a success in London?
A successful project meets its objectives.
• 20% less traffic is entering the zone – the target was 15%.

• Projected revenue is less than half the 2001 forecast at £65m;

• Bus subsides are ahead of estimates at £500m per annum. This means less revenue is being raised to finance transport improvements.

• Bus usage is up 14%. Journey reliability has improved

Revision notes

Resource Allocation Issues in Transport
Task: What are the main transport problems facing the government?
• Capacity : Current road, rail and air networks are unable to meet current demand at peak times.

• Sustainability: Projected increase in car usage is unsustainable.

• Infrastructure: past under investment means the public transport network is badly maintained and characterised by poor quality and lack of choice.

• Use of buses falling outside London: Mergers of bus companies following deregulation means a lack of competition, reduced services, higher fares, local monopolies and high subsides to operators to run non commercial rural routes

• The government is unsure if the electorate will accept satellite technology for charging will work.

Explain why the ‘best’ allocation of resources is not always possible?
The characteristics of transport mean such conditions are not always possible.
Transport markets fail because:
• Operators and users fail to take account of significant externalities.

• There is imperfect competition in a transport market e.g. in some regions local buses are a monopoly.

• Roads are a quasi public good i.e. to some extent non-excludable and non-rival.

• Railways are a natural monopoly so a regulated monopoly is the best solution.

Task: What are the special characteristics of transport investment?
The characteristics of transport investment include:
• Transport investment especially in infrastructure is very expensive and measured in £billions;

• Infrastructure has a life of 25+ years ie is long term;

• The costs mainly occur in the early years while the benefits are spread over the life of the project;

• Transport infrastructures also create positive externalities;
• Investment in local transport infrastructure can be an initial stimulus to regional economic development with improved job opportunities and a multiplier effect.

Task: Is road space a pure public good?
A pure public good is non-excludable and non-rival.

Tolls and licences can be used to exclude motorists; once operating at capacity road space becomes rivalry. In short, road space is a quasi public good.

Task: Distinguish between Public Private Partnerships and the Private Funding Initiative
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are joint ventures between private sector firms and public sector agencies eg Amery and London Underground.

The Private Funding Initiative (PFI) is an example of PPP where private firms bid for a contract to pay for the construction costs of infrastructure and then rent the finished project back to the public sector.

Task: Is the Private Funding Initiative a success in transport? Justify
No: Some private sector firms are demanding rates of return in excess of 30% for investment in London Underground modernisation.
This implies a pay back period of 3 years with 22 years of ‘super-normal profit’. The ‘abnormal profit’ received by firms could be reinvested in the service.

Yes: “The use of PFI for road procurement has delivered contracts representing real value for money…. These savings are significant and show that private sector efficiencies and the adoption of whole-life costing techniques are not just theory, but a reality.” Source: Highways Agency.

Task: Give examples of fixed, variable and semi fixed costs in transport
Fixed Costs are independent of mileage.
• Car purchase / replacement
• Interest on loans
• Depreciation of vehicle due to age

Variable Costs depend on miles/usage.
• Fuel
• Depreciation from mileage
• Time Cost (opportunity cost)
Semi fixed costs part fixed and part variable eg a firm may employ a pool of drivers who may be idle at some point in the day.
Task: Are load factors important?
Load factor refers to the proportion of total space or seats sold.
• A load factor of 80% means 8 in 10 seats are sold.
• A greater load factor means higher technical efficiency, and lower unit costs.

Task: Can costs and benefits always be expressed in monetary terms?
Externalities are estimated using money as a unit of account. Private costs and benefits are relatively easy to establish by constructing demand and supply schedules.

External costs are estimated using one of two methods:
• ex ante i.e. before the event: what are users willing to pay to avoid an externality?

• ex post i.e. after the event: what are the costs incurred by say an accident.

NB: The Dept of Transport assess environmental, accessibility, and integration impacts qualitatively ie outside a CBA approach.

Revision notes

Task: What is the importance of transport to the economy?

Transport systems help overcome the effects of distance and:

1. Increase the size of the market by enabling domestic goods to be sold globally;

2. Create mass markets

3. Enhance opportunities for international trade / economic integration

4. Enables just in time production techniques

5. Improved mobility of labour (commuting possible)

6. Improved UK competitiveness (minimises travel times / unit costs)

Task: Why is transport infrastructure important?

1. Transport accounts for nearly 15% of UK economic activity in terms of GDP.

2. Transport infrastructure generates positive externalities

3. Investment in transport infrastructure can be an initial stimulus to regional economic development.

Task: What factors affect the demand for transport?

The quantity of transport demanded is dependent on a range of factors:

1. The price of a journey e.g. price of petrol or rail fare

2. Price of substitutes e.g. coach or rail fare.

3. Price of complements e.g. price of new cars and petrol.

4. Income e.g. low income households cannot afford a car.

5. Consumer taste e.g. public transport unreliable.

6. Time – how long will a journey by a given transport mode take?

Task: Why has the demand for road transport risen sharply?

Consumer behaviour changes have increased demand for car travel:

1. Workers commute longer distances.

2. Out of town shopping centres encourage road usage.

3. More pupils are taken by car in the school run.

4. The price of new cars has fallen following government fair trade investigation stimulating demand.

Task: What is Price discrimination?

This is where a firm sells identical products at different prices to different buyers.

Task: State the major stakeholders in a transport market and explain their objectives to the person next to you.

· Passengers or freight users: wants low price/costs and reliable safe journeys.

· Employees: seeking high wages and good working conditions.

· Employers: (operators) want minimum costs, maximum profits and meeting government targets.

· Managers: seeking bonuses and promotion.

· Owners/shareholders: maximum profits, dividends and growth.

· Local communities: want excellent transport infrastructure and minimal negative externalities.

· Government: want to satisfy voters, invest in infrastructure and high tax receipts.

Task: How is economic efficiency achieved?

  • Productive efficiencyfirms delivering the highest possible output from given inputs by producing at the lowest unit costs.
  • Allocative efficiencyresources are allocated to the production of goods/services most valued by society.

Task: How can competition lead to an efficient allocation of resources?

In terms of:

1. Productive efficiency:

· Unit costs leading to higher profits;

· Firms who do not produce at unit cost may be forced to close.

2. Allocative efficiency:

  • Produce goods/services most people want
  • Enter industries enjoying abnormal profits
  • Leave industries suffering abnormal losses

Task: Explain how firms compete on non-price competition

Non-price competition in the form of differentiation through:

  • Quality
  • Brand Image
  • Advertising
  • Distribution

Task: Do natural monopolies earn abnormal profits?

Unregulated monopolies have the freedom to set profit maximising (or loss minimising) price/output.

Regulator may prevent abnormal profits through:

  • Cap price increase
  • Monitor service quality
  • Introduce competition

Task: What are the benefits created by monopolies?

  • Significant economies of scale
  • A natural monopoly e.g. railway network MES is so high meaning one firm can fully exploit the potential of economies of scale.
  • Only monopolies can generate sufficient profits to enable large scale high cost of R&D.

Task: How do firms gain and maintain monopoly power?

The degree of monopoly power is related to the availability of close substitutes through:

  • Unique or highly differentiated products

Internal organic growth or mergers/takeovers


Task: Describe the importance of deregulation in the transport industry?

Government encourage competition through:

  • Privatisation e.g. telecommunication; water; electricity etc.
  • Removal of barriers to entry and open up a market to greater competition.

Task: Analysis the benefits and costs of deregulation in road passenger (bus) in the UK.


  • More entrants (new firms)
  • More frequent services
  • Lower fares


  • More buses operating below full capacity.
  • Adding to existing congestion.
  • Increasing pollution in crowded city centres.

Task: Analysis the benefits and costs of UK railways privatisation.


  • Improved services
  • More competitive charges
  • Better customer services
  • Enhanced efficiency


  • Safety
  • Punctuality
  • Profitability


Transport Exam Paper June 2010

Remember this?

In 2009 I taught on an Easter Course. On the course was a student from 'school X' where the Chief Examiner taught. This Chief Examiner emphasised, repeated, stressed a particular topic 'for the exam' - the PSBR.

This was the first question in the exam!

This year - 2010 - I taught on another Easter course and met someone who told me what was in the Transport exam.

I will wait a bit and then post the questions...



What have these three got in common?

TWO OF THEM did extra essays for me - which I marked.

The other one did a daily blog.

So what did they all do?

And they all got grade A !

Only one other person got grade A - and he taught Economics!


Well, the exam is now over

I wasn't allowed to say so before but a legal letter was received and as a result I was not allowed to:

'openly and flagrantly post the questions for the January 2010 exam paper. Whilst it may not be possible to prosecute you as there has yet been a test case on this, nonetheless the question papers would have to be withdrawn and re-set. Given the problems already caused by inclement weather, such a move could be a disaster for all the hardworking A2 students'

However nothing was said about obscurely posting the questions (which I did here) and then pointing my own students towards the relevant post




1. Ten Year Transport Plan, found here, was, of course, “dead” by 2004, but managed to sruggle on and had only “Failed” by 2008. It’s well worth looking at the plans/targets in the introduction (e.g. Rail investment, congestion targets etc) and thinking about whether they’ve been achieved.

2. National Road Pricing was floated in 2005. There’s an excellent 24-page briefing here (it won’t take you that long to skim through, honest), and Friends of The Earth have a document about it here (pdf). I haven’t read it; let me know how it is. Plenty more out there on teh interwebs.

3. World’s fastest train is now in China. Best line of the video: “airlines are already reducing their prices to compete”. does the large distance make it more worthwhile than UK? Not sure. But China will have 13,000 km more high speed line in the next 3 years. Astonishing.

4. This is an interesting little website which shows you the pollution effects of a journey by different modes of transport. Check out your greenhouse gasses.

5. Nice pointers for AO4 skills here, from the BBC’s “Ethical Man”. Instead of looking at his blog as asking “Are busses greener than cars?”, think of it as “under what circumstances are busses greener than cars?”. Definitely worth a read.

6. Meanwhile, also on the BBC, from a few moths ago, is a look at whether trains have got better over the last decade or so.

And having mentioned Hybrid cars recently, are they worth the effort. Slate looks at their green credentials in this article and discussion (from last year).

Fancy making such a suggestion!

This blog suggests there is inside knowledge....

How can that possibly be true?

Is this a school where the Chief Examiner teaches? (Because that would open up the suggestion that there was inside knowledge...)

Has a textbook been written by the Chief Examiner with a mock inside that bears a startling resemblance to the actual paper (as was suggested last year with A level Sociology). Would that be 'inside knowledge'?

Have students just finished a revision course where they said that they had received 'huge hints' as to what was on the paper (as happened last year too!)

Surely the fairest thing would be to bring the 'inside knowledge' to the widest audience possible - and, to avoid charges of breaching copyright, get the mark allocation wrong....?


Attention Bagautdinova!


9.00 – 10.30

• Data response/comprehension questions on Transport
• Demand for transport
• Transport forecasts

11.00 – 12.30

• Theory of the Firm models in Transport
• Price discrimination in Transport
• Deregulation
• Contestability
• Privatisation of Transport

1.30 – 2.20

• Resource allocation issues in Transport
• Private funding
• The COBA model

3.30 – 5.00

• Transport policies to correct market failure
• Government measures to intervene: demand side measures
• Government measures to intervene: supply-side measures



Do this essay as a mock
a) with the aid of a diagram, explain how atmospheric pollution associated with increased transport use causes misallocation of resources (10)
b) Discuss the extent to which increased indirect taxes on transport users might correct the market failure caused by atmospheric pollution associated with increased transport use (15)

Research this essay and then write it out in 1 hour

1. (a) explain the benefits of an integrated transport policy (10)
(b) Discuss the extent to which the present structure of the UK rail industry contributes towards an integrated transport policy (15)

Do this essay as a mock

2. (a)Explain the natural monopoly argument as applied to transport (10 mks)
(b) Evaluate the policies a government may follow to increase the degree of competition within transport markets (15 mks)

Research this essay and then write it out in 1 hour

3. (a) Outline the main barriers to entry in the transport market (10 mks)
(b) Evaluate the impact of Rail Privatisation (15 mks)

Do this essay as a mock
a) Explain the factors which have influenced the growth in demand for private car use (10)
b) Discuss the extent to which a national road user charging scheme could reverse the growth in demand for private car use (15)

Do this essay as a mock

a) Explain how economists forecast air passenger transport demand (10)
b) Discuss the implications for government policy of the projected increase in demand for air passenger transport (15)

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(a) Explain how the negative externalities caused by transport users result in the misallocation of resources (10)
(b) Discuss the extent to which taxes levied on transport users correct the misallocation of resources such users cause (15)

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(a) Explain the private and external costs associated with traffic congestion. (10)
(b) Discuss, with the aid of examples, the effectiveness of using the cost benefit approach when appraising transport infrastructure projects. (15)


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(a) Explain the determinants of demand for rail passenger transport (10)
(b) Discuss the impact of growing demand for rail transport services on rail infrastructure and on transport sustainability. (15)

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9 (a) With reference to data, examine the role of government and the market in the allocation of resources in the transport sector (10 mks)
(b) Analyse the relationship between transport economics and transport policies, particularly in the UK (15 mks)


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8 (a) Outline the nature and features of an integrated transport policy (10 mks)
(b) Evaluate whether transport policy should be promoting more sustainable transport outcome.

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7 (a) With reference to examples, explain why road congestion is a classic case of market failure (10 mks)
(b) “Some form of road pricing is the only proven and effective way of reducing congestion in many towns and cities.” Discuss


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a) Outline the economic argument for subsidising railways (10 mks)
b) Giving examples of road pricing policies in different countries, evaluate the case for road pricing as a means of correcting market failure (15 mks)

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4 (a) With reference to data, explain why the private sector is having an increasingly important role in funding transport investment, particularly through the Private Finance Initiative (10 mks)
(b) Evaluate the use of cost benefit analysis to allocate resources in transport (15 mks)