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Eliminating HOV Lanes Brings Big Increase in Traffic Delays, Jakarta Study Finds

Bill Cramer

A decision by the city of Jakarta, Indonesia to eliminate a car-pooling requirement for vehicles entering its central business district at rush hour inadvertently showed how effective HOV policies can be at relieving traffic congestion.

A recent study, conducted by a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and published in the journal Science, uncovered a bit of an inconvenient truth: that one of the least popular congestion relief methods available to cities and roadway managers can also deliver some of the best results.

“Jakarta, with more than 10 million people, has legendary traffic jams, but congestion is a common problem even in cities with just a tenth of the population,” notes Sydney, Australia writer Angus Bezzina, in a post for Cosmos Magazine. “Around the world, many urban commuters can spend an extra 60 to 90 minutes a day travelling to and from work due to traffic hold-ups.”

Jakarta came into the picture in March 2016, when officials dropped a rush hour HOV-3 requirement that evidently raised the ire of some commuters—but still got the job done. The team led by Harvard researcher Rema Hanna used Google Maps to track the impact by calculating the time it would take to drive a single kilometre (0.62 mile).

“Through their analysis, the researchers found that travel delays on the roads that had previously included HOV restrictions rose by 50% in the mornings, almost doubled in the evenings, and even increased in off-peak times and on alternate roads by more than 10%,” Bezzina reports.

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