BREAD Working Paper No. 547, October 2018

Mobility and congestion in urban India

Prottoy A. Akbar, Gilles Duranton, Victor Couture, Adam Storeygard


We develop a methodology to estimate robust city-level vehicular mobility indices, and apply it to 154 Indian cities using 22 million counterfactual trips measured by a web mapping service. There is wide variation in mobility across cities. An exact decomposition shows this variation is driven more by differences in un- congested mobility than congestion. Under plausible assumptions, a one-standard-deviation improvement in uncongested speed creates much more mobility than optimal congestion pricing. Denser and more populated cities are slower, only in part because of congestion. Urban economic development is correlated with better (uncongested and overall) mobility despite worse congestion.

Keywords: urban transportation, roads, traffic, determinants of travel speed, cities