Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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bidding for greens

Auction off green lights to people who are really in a hurry
  (+16, -9)
(+16, -9)
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Cars equipped with GPS receivers know where they are, and whether they're moving or not.

Give these cars a knob on the dashboard for "impatience", and let them negotiate among themselves for queue delays. When your impatience is high, your car will bid higher in the electronic auctions for early green lights at intersections. When your impatience is low, you'll accept bids for delaying your green light.

Chris points out that once you're at the intersection it's already too late to avoid waiting. He suggests using a map of nearby intersections and their wait times to choose a better route, possibly one free of delays (see "speed maps" for a related idea). In case no delay-free path exists, this same data could be used to conduct the aucion in advance of your arrival at the intersection. You also need to know how long the queue is, and have some idea how long it will take to drain it since this has to happen before you proceed. Clusters of cars with the same entry and exit points to/from a network of intersections can collectively bid for a path.

How to limit speculative appearances at busy intersections by highly patient drivers remains TBD.

sdpinpdx, Sep 19 1999

Highway 407 http://www.tc.gc.ca...RE1998/TC98C11E.HTM
More than you are likely to want to know about "Transportation in Canada". Search repeatedly for "Highway 407" [Monkfish, Sep 19 1999, last modified Oct 04 2004]

NYC Airports Vow To Block Flight Auctions http://www.wnbc.com...ml?dl=headlineclick
"The managers of New York City's three crowded airports vowed Monday to block a Bush administration experiment to reduce flight delays around the country by auctioning off takeoff and landing slots." [jutta, Aug 04 2008]

[link]






       You also need to look out for bike based messenger services optimizing traffic flows for gridlock.
tenhand, Sep 22 1999
  

       Red sportscar, tailgating me. Finally passes, approaching light. I bid to keep it red for another few seconds...
dean, Jan 06 2000
  

       This would work better with charging for use of special lanes on roads. Once you start using the 'pay' lane you're told the cost per minute of usage. You respond with the maximum price you're prepared to pay per minute and start using the lane. If the computer monitoring lane usage detects that traffic is too heavy in the 'pay' lane it will raise the cost per minute and alert all the drivers using the lane whose maximum cost per minute falls below the new value that they have to vacate the lane immediately. (Of course, if you decide that you don't want to be kicked out of the lane, you can raise your maximum cost per minute and the computer will kick someone else out of the lane.)
hippo, Mar 02 2000
  

       Supposedly they have pay lanes in Orange County which change cost depending on congestion (there's a digital sign informing you of the current toll).   

       It's not quite bidding, but...
egnor, Mar 02 2000
  

       Of course, once all roads have sophisticated traffic monitoring, I expect to be able to send out an agent before I go anywhere to negotiate with the traffic computers a good deal on a reasonably quick, uncongested journey to my destination.
hippo, Mar 02 2000
  

       Then again, there is the alternate viewpoint, the "Priceline.com" concept - I will bid for the lowest cost way of getting somewhere.   

       And don't forget that the optimal sitution is where everybody cooperates to reach their own goals. The best way of measuring traffic congestion is now how fast one a**hole got home, but how that time savings matches against the added delays he caused everybody he crossed paths with on the trip.
jweston, May 06 2000
  

       I know it's hard to imagine, but sometimes poor people are in a hurry too.
and considering the speculative nature of patent drivers, who cares? It could become a career, professional red lighter.
raisin, Sep 29 2000
  

       I'd rather declare the roads a shared resource, charge for the use of them and rebate that money adjusting to redress the inequities created by things like accidents, movie shoots, presidential visits, parades, construction projects, etc.   

       Every vehicle would have a GPS or cell phone type device that kept track of its use of the roads, with a higher rate during the traffic hours.   

       The total "take" from this new fee is then divided by the number of vehicles and rebated (perhaps as a registration credit)   

       Drive the average amount and its a wash--you get back what you put it. Drive more than average and you're effective paying the people in your rear view mirror for being in front of them.   

       Drive less than average and you getting paid by the folks who use the roads more. We might even skew the equation a bit to reward gas efficient cars, or people who avoid driving during crowded holidays, etc.
ananias, Dec 06 2000
  

       Ananias, a gasoline tax would take care of most of these requirements without the technological kukamungafungabunga.
jutta, Dec 06 2000
  

       Gas taxes and odometer taxes only approximate your contribution to congestion and pollution.
egnor, Dec 07 2000
  

       Quite well, though, in that you're using more gas in city traffic or when going at inefficiently high speeds. If you want to stress the aspect of "being stuck in stop-and-go city traffic", maybe brake pads could be taxed, too. (Personally, I feel that being stuck is punishment enough.)   

       I'm trying to tax the ingredients because I don't think creating a database that tracks the location of every driver in a country is a good idea, no matter how criminal you may think they are...
jutta, Dec 08 2000
  

       You don't need a database that tracks the location of every driver in the country, you just need old-fashioned toll roads, with some new-fangled payment technology to lower the transaction cost. Any given road's toll would depend on the congestion at that moment, and the toll amounts would be widely published.   

       I could reverse your argument and claim that all groceries should be free and paid for by a "sewer tax", since after all it's clearly unacceptable to track everyone's grocery purchases in some central database, but if you required everyone to pay cash that would create a ridiculous bottleneck...
egnor, Dec 09 2000
  

       See the link for an example of new-fangled toll-road payment technology: Highway 407. Fees are based on distance travelled, type of vehicle, and time of day. Not sure yet about the practicality of this sort of thing for city streets.   

       Databases: It would, of course, be difficult to know what was being done with the information which would have to be recorded in order to do automatic billing. It may be that the temptation to find stolen cars this way, for example, would be too much, and from there to a database of movements (to give in to spittle-flecked paranoia for a brief moment) is a smallish journey.   

       Gas taxes are still a very good proxy for things like road usage, and there are other things besides road use which are at issue (extraction, pollution). Taxes are not fees-for-service -- a gas tax is a straightforward consumption tax which happens to track use of roads quite closely. I don't know that it's necessarily better to get into the habit of metering service use and charging accordingly. I am not against toll roads and toll highways, but I would not care to see them replace taxes on fuel. Let the two co-exist.
Monkfish, Dec 09 2000
  

       Higher gas taxes is hardly the most capitalistic route one could take. Toll roads that charge based on congestion is easily the better approach. There could actually be transmitters imbedded in the roads, and your on-board computer would receive information as to what the current toll is. The computer could have certain "parameters" as to how much you are willing to spend, and a light would come on indicating that the toll road is available as per your parameters.
VeXaR, Dec 15 2000, last modified Jan 05 2001
  

       I have no idea why this idea went back up to the top, but everytime I see it I think it has something to do with tee times.
centauri, Jan 05 2001
  

       I always think it has something to do with chocobo raising... I need to get out more...
absterge, Jan 05 2001
  

       Hwy 15 in So. California has a commuter lane. Used to be a carpool lane. For a fee drivers may use this lane without passengers. It is free for carpools. The rate changes throughout the day based on the traffic on the regular lanes the driver would have had to use. The lanes change direction to accomadate rush hour traffic either way.
wireless, May 13 2001
  

       I'm afraid I don't understand the point of tolling certain roads (unless the road is a private concern). If there's too much traffic on road A it's because road A is the best way to get to point Z. Make it expensive to use road A and people will begin to use road B. The problem doesn't go away, it just changes location. If you're going to charge people to use public roads (and I already pay taxes for them) then why not charge them based on odometer mileage, which reflects total road usage (farm vehicles excepted)?   

       A better way to control traffic would be to put more thought into city and road design. I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (near Norfolk). We have two bridge-tunnels and one bridge that cross the James River, and you can count on them being bumper-to-bumper at least twice a day. Why? Because people who live over there work over here and vice versa. Also, the local interstate highway - which should be a limited access road - has no less than 12 exits in my city! Consequently everyone uses it to get around the city which, in turn, means that those people who are just 'passing through' have to deal with the local traffic.
phoenix, Aug 22 2001
  

       For traffic light avoidance, install a lever instead of a handbrake. Just raise the lever on the approach to the lights, the blades pull pitch, the power transfers to the blades and before you know it you are at 50 feet. Thanks Frank (Robinson) the R44's not a bad effort, now you just need to get rid of the tail rotor and cut the blade disk diameter down a tad.
prodriver, Apr 30 2002
  

       Whenever you use a road, you pay in gas and time. If people aren't so bothered by sitting in traffic that they're willing to do something about it, then they don't value their time too highly.
ThotMouser, May 01 2002
  

       What absterge said.
DrBob, Oct 15 2003
  

       SMS or dial from cellular: No special GPS or anything else needed in cars, and very simple to install in lights. (And would pay itself back rapidly).   

       Take off seconds from wait by dialing the light   

       Just like on TV shows, you can give your message to the world, by smsing it. Your message is shown along with the time you took off from the traffic-light wait (you can pay more to take off more), and how much time is left till the green-light. Wouldnt necessarily help traffic, but could be useful if the money was donated to some good cause. People WOULD dial in, and it would give them a good feeling of some control.   

       There was this service in Israel to light up a giant Star-Of-David by SMS, on independance day. The money was donated for charity and medical causes. Within an hour hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised.   

       Might make traffic lights more affordable to municipalities, and at the same time more friendly to drivers.
pashute, Jun 22 2004
  

       The words "regressive" and "shitty" come to mind.
WcW, Aug 05 2008
  

       Great, another tax!
mecotterill, Aug 10 2008
  

       I like this idea - it's a clever idea and the roads are just too crowded now to think that some form of road pricing is not inevitable, and there's a nostalgia angle too, as it's one of the first ideas I ever saw here.
hippo, Aug 11 2008
  

       Somewhere I hear the sound of a traffic flow planning engineer, weeping quietly over his supercomputer.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 11 2008
  

       I have a mental image of two speeding vehicles approaching a junction at suicidal speed, frantically trying to outbid each other as they hurtle towards mutual destruction.

Rather than have the vehicles conducting a bidding war whilst in transit, wouldn't it make more sense, and be safer to 'buy a route' before you set off (i.e. bids are only accepted from stationary vehicles)?
DrBob, Aug 12 2008
  

       Buses should be be allowed a special rate. Based on the number of cars their passengers would be driving, if they had decide not to take the bus.   

       Say a bus with ten passengers, but only 7 riders with drivers licenses would get 7 + the bus driver or 8 times their bid.
popbottle, May 25 2017
  

       //How to limit speculative appearances at busy intersections//   

       All payment to the city, and patient drivers get an infungible benefit from the city, such as tickets to the opera.
Voice, May 26 2017
  

       No-one deserves to be punished like that.   

       Well, Democrats do. Oh, and environmentalists ... and the welsh ... and journalists ... and the french ... and socialists ... and .... well, OK, a lot of people deserve to be punished like that, except the few that don't.
8th of 7, May 26 2017
  

       People waiting at the next bus stop or two should also be taken into account. People who are running toward those bus stops can have their phones detect this and automatically bid to keep the light red longer.
notexactly, May 26 2017
  

       Only the fancy phoned could bid.   

       There are two kinds of people in this world: (not short tall or fat thin or male female or black white or rich poor)   

       The fancy phoned... and The might as well be unphoned.   

       McDonald's gives a coupon only to the fancy phoned. Job hunts require not a resume, but a fancy phone. If you don't have a fancy phone you might as well be dead.   

       iPhone U!
popbottle, May 27 2017
  

       I have been completely phoneless (carrying around instead a tablet that only has Wi-Fi and isn't even good at that) for about two years now. It is indeed quite inconvenient for certain things.
notexactly, Jun 01 2017
  

       I think, that everything is inconvenient for certain things.
pocmloc, Jun 02 2017
  

       unless you modify your criteria pertaining to convenience on a case-by-case basis
hippo, Jun 02 2017
  

       That would be inconvenient. It'd be more convenient if it were pre-modified.
Ian Tindale, Jun 02 2017
  

       I'd better pop down to asda's vegetable aisle and see if they're still selling Spring Greens, two days after the onset of meteorological summer (or was it geological summer?).
Ian Tindale, Jun 02 2017
  

       I believe 1st June is technically the start of apocryphal summer in England. In Wales, it falls on the 8th of June and has fewer vowels.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 02 2017
  
      
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