Embedding a Model in Urban Commons: Transportation Game in a Megacity Setting

"The paper focuses on transport as one of the most valuable urban commons in the emerging Megacity of Hyderabad in India. The authors build upon a game dealing with transportation as a common pool resource. The game design is supported by real data taken from a travel demand modeling software and further enhanced by information gathered through institutional analysis conducted using the Institution of Sustainability (IoS) framework. The main objective of this experimental tool is to study the typical social dilemma in an urban transport setting, where individual optimum clashes with the group's optimum. This clash might finally result in a tragedy of the urban commons not because of technical constraints but due to institutions (or the lack thereof) shaping the choices of the commuters. The game is about the mode and route choice of the employee given the worst condition that he/she need to go to his/her office in morning peak time, so that it delivers his/her social behavior. The players' preferences of transport modes and routes are controlled by transport parameters namely vehicle and travel cost, road capacity, travel time, speed and air pollution. Three sets of rounds are played under three different concepts. Namely: a) an open access situation where all players freely choose their modes and routes without communicating with each other, b) restricted/regulated access by imposing traffic and transport rules/sanctions without communication and finally c) the introduction of communication and the possibility for them to craft their own rules or improve the existing ones. The overall goal of this game is to explore equilibrium on how to balance the individual and group profit avoiding a tragedy of urban commons. Finally the authors argue on the usefulness of context-dependent games as complementary tools to the currently employed transportation models. Such a holistic approach may include effects of rules in transportation by addressing institutional constraints in traffic solutions not captured by current practices and set up an integrated supportive tool for a sustainable traffic solution. Research for this paper was conducted under the German-Indian research project Sustainable Hyderabad - 'Climate and Energy in a complex Transition Process towards Sustainable Hyderabad. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies by changing Institutions, Governance Structures, Lifestyles and Consumption Patterns', funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)."
urban affairs, transportation, game theory, institutional analysis