Citywide effects of high-occupancy vehicle restrictions: Evidence from “three-in-one” in Jakarta

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 89-93
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan2747

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How to make traffic worse everywhere

One policy aimed at improving traffic flows in large cities requires vehicles to carry two or three passengers, usually in lanes or roads set aside for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel. Whether this actually increases speeds depends on how heavily the HOV roads are used and the availability of alternate routes. Hanna et al. took advantage of an abrupt policy change—the elimination of HOV rules—in Jakarta to collect the travel times from Google Maps for HOV and alternate routes before and after the change (see the Perspective by Anderson). They observed a serious worsening of traffic throughout the city.

Science, this issue p. 89; see also p. 36


Widespread use of single-occupancy cars often leads to traffic congestion. Using anonymized traffic speed data from Android phones collected through Google Maps, we investigated whether high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policies can combat congestion. We studied Jakarta’s “three-in-one” policy, which required all private cars on two major roads to carry at least three passengers during peak hours. After the policy was abruptly abandoned in April 2016, delays rose from 2.1 to 3.1 minutes per kilometer (min/km) in the morning peak and from 2.8 to 5.3 min/km in the evening peak. The lifting of the policy led to worse traffic throughout the city, even on roads that had never been restricted or at times when restrictions had never been in place. In short, we find that HOV policies can greatly improve traffic conditions.

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