PerspectiveSocial Science

How to beat the traffic

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 36-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8177

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Traffic congestion is a leading quality-of-life issue in urban areas across the world. In response, governments have attempted to reduce traffic through an array of policies, including road capacity expansions, license plate–based driving restrictions, congestion charges, and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Many of these policies, however, trigger unintended responses that may render them ineffective. HOV lanes, in particular, are often controversial because road lane capacity may go unused, lane enforcement may be lax, and vehicles may have extra occupants who would not otherwise travel. On page 89 of this issue, Hanna et al. show that despite these concerns, a long-term HOV policy in Jakarta—by some measures the most congested city in the world—was highly effective at reducing traffic delays (1).