Sample Logisics Essays on Congestion


Congestion is a contentious and complex term, and for this reason, we do not have a universally recognized definition. The PIARC (2010) describes congestion as a multifaceted occurrence often under the influence of technical, human, and socioeconomic factors. According to Falcocchio and Levinson (2015), congestion is defined as “the additional travel time or delay incurred compared to that under light or free-flow travel conditions” (p. 93). In other words, traffic congestion is the time difference in travel between light and heavy traffic periods. The high level of congestion in urban setting poses a real challenge to city planning agencies. In this case, urban setting describes the specific circumstances in which congestion occurs in the urban areas, main towns, and cities.

Chang, Lee, and Choi (2017) highlight that, over the last three decades, we have witnessed an increase in the cost of urban congestion, around factors influencing money, time, and fuel.  In 2011, urban congestion was responsible for over 4.8 billion hours of delays in travel for some 101 large cities in the U.S. This is triggered an increase in fuel consumption by an additional 8.410 million cubic meters. Urban congestion is also a leading contributory factor to environmental pollution. For instance, in 2011, the 101 largest urban centers in the US generated an additional 19.524 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide (Chang et al., 2017). This has an impact on public infrastructure in the urban setting.

Public infrastructure refers to the support meant for public use, and is hence owned by the public. In this case, public infrastructure differs from generic or private infrastructure with regards to financing, purpose, and policy (Torrisi, 2009). Examples of necessary public infrastructure in the urban setting include rail and road transport. There is need to deal with the issue of congestion as a matter of urgency, given its impact on the public life.

A paper by the Smarter Cambridge Transport (2017) has identified two main categories of congestion-reduction measures for use in an urban environment: virtuous and temporary. The goal of temporary measures is to deal with the induced demand for public infrastructure, thereby freeing up capacity. In other words, temporary measures involve users of public infrastructure, adapting to the prevailing conditions. These are not permanent measures, and hence should only be used as a basis for setting the stage for the adoption of more radical interventions, or as a ploy to buy time. Conversely, good measures induce users of public infrastructure, such as those on the roads network, to adopt a modal shift whereby they rely more on public means of transport and cease driving. This can be realized by, for example, making a bus service cheaper or more convenient. Consequently, such a favorable service is likely to run for longer hours and more frequently (Smarter Cambridge Transport, 2017).

One of the measurements that can be employed by city planners to deal with congestion is by optimizing traffic-light management. Specifically, the use of SCOOT, which is a type of a UTMC (Urban Traffic Management Control) system, has been shown to efficiently optimize road capacity “by varying the timing of traffic lights to match demand in real time” (Smarter Cambridge Transport, 2017). Such coordination of traffic lights, in response to demand, helps to minimize the gridlock. To prove if this proposed suggestion will work, city planners may need to prepare model programs to deal with particular scenarios and then load such models into the UTMC system. For example, simulate incidents bound to happen on an arterial road that could cause congestion. Adoption of the proposed measure will help reduce congestion by improving traffic flow.




Chang, Y.S., Lee, Y.J., & Choi, S.S.B. (2017). Is there more traffic congestion in larger cities?

Scaling analysis of the 101 largest U.S. urban centers. Transport Policy, 59, 54-63.

Falcocchio, J.C., & Levinson, H.S. (2015). Road Traffic Congestion: A Concise Guide. New

York: Springer

PIARC (2010). Congestion in urban areas – Examples of counter-measures.

Smarter Cambridge Transport (2017). Reducing Congestion and Pollution in Urban Areas.

Torrisi, G. (2009). Public infrastructure: definition, classification and measurements issues.