Skip to main content

Braess’s paradox in the real world

In a podcast, Andy Boyd discusses a project in New York City to close down a road and convert it into a plaza for pedestrians. It describes the effects of the project on traffic and congestion, and shows pictures of the area before and after the project.

In class, we learned about Braess’s paradox, the idea that adding a new road to a congested road network can actually increase travel time instead of decreasing it. This is due to the Nash equilibria that form. When the new shortcut is added, more drivers take that route, because it is faster for them to take the new route than the old route. However, once everyone is taking the new route, the overall travel time is longer, but it cannot become lower unless everyone simultaneously agrees to use the old roads. An inefficient option can be a Nash equilibrium.

This project in NYC is a prime example of the phenomenon happening in real life. Closing down the roads was initially a temporary proposal, but once it became clear that it significantly reduced traffic, it was made a permanent change. Due to Braess’s paradox, removing the road actually made the road network more efficient.

This is just one of the examples of Braess’s paradox and similar ideas occuring in real life. Every lecture, I realize I have seen things in real life that remind me of topics from this course.


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

September 2018