Dynamic Incentive Design for Transportation Systems with Unknown Value of Time

This project aims to do the following: (1) Design time-varying payment and pricing scheme to manage congestion during rush hours and during special events, subject to price cap and budget constraint (2) Develop a data-driven approach to design payment and pricing schemes when the travelers’ values of time and other relevant parameters are unknown (3) Verify the efficacy of the proposed approaches in human subject experiments (4) Study the potential impact of connected and automated vehicles on congestion pricing due to effect on bottleneck flow capacity. It is well-known that, in general, user equilibria in traffic systems do not minimize social cost, e.g., average travel time of all travelers. Congestion pricing is a common technique to steer the user choices towards a socially optimal profile. Determination of pricing requires knowledge of travelers’ values of time. There has been an extensive work on determining these values from a survey. Arguably, one could use such estimates to determine optimal pricing. However, the survey-based methods are slow and may not capture the trends in values of time in a timely manner and thereby may lead to incorrect congestion pricing, and hence inefficient transportation system. Moreover, the separation of estimation and pricing is arguably not necessary. In this project, the team proposes a novel framework to combine the two steps into a single data-driven step. Specifically, they revisit the class of bottleneck problems in the context of congestion pricing and payments, collectively referred to as incentives. Optimal incentive profile is known in some basic cases. The project team is interested in generalization to common extensions such as heterogeneous drivers, multiple bottlenecks, and multiple modes, but also to practical constraints such as pricing cap and budget constraint for the system planner. The project team proposes an optimal control formulation and provide algorithms for computing optimal incentives for such generalizations. The project team then uses an iterative approach to design optimal incentives with unknown values of time. In each iteration, the (Nash equilibrium) arrival profile, in response to incentives from the previous iteration, is observed and used to update the incentives. These update rules are to be designed so that the iterates converge to the correct values of time. The project team shall use semi-analytical results about the structure of the optimal incentives for known values of time to design gradient schemes for the update rules. The team also shall empirically study the convergence property of human behavior experiments in a simulated environment. Participants will be engaged in repeated scenarios of departure time decisions in presence of incentives on a computer screen. In each iteration, the computer updates the incentives according to the data-driven algorithm. The project team shall investigate if indeed their estimates converge to the correct values of the time of the participants, where the latter will be assessed based on end of experiment questionnaire.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $100000
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Department of Transportation

      Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC    20590

      Department of Transportation

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      METRANS Transportation Center

      University of Southern California
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Southern California, Los Angeles

      Viterbi School of Engineering
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-2531
    • Principal Investigators:

      Savla, Ketan

    • Start Date: 20220815
    • Expected Completion Date: 20230814
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01854747
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747109
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Aug 16 2022 7:01PM