A Ubiquitous Collective Tragedy in Transport

Complexity Digest

Rafael Prieto Curiel, Humberto González Ramírez, and Steven Bishop

Front. Phys., 16 June 2022

A tragedy of the commons is said to occur when individuals act only in their own interest but, in so doing, create a collective state of a group that is less than optimal due to uncoordinated action. Here, we explore the individual decision-making processes of commuters using various forms of transport within a city, forming a modal share which is then built into a dynamical model using travel time as the key variable. From a randomised start in the distribution of the modal share, assuming that some individuals change their commuting method, favouring lower travel times, we show that a stable modal share is reached corresponding to an equilibrium in the model. Considering the average travel time for all commuters within the city, we show that an optimal result is achieved only if the direct and…

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