Re: changing traffic lights by the force of your money

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 01:03:46 MST

Kenneth Hurst wrote:

> Like Mr. Jones said, a market-based solution is a favorable one, but letting
> people set the value of their time does not sound like a good
> implementation, as there is absolutely no motivation to set the value of
> your time at what it "really" is. If I can do more by setting my time's
> value to "high," why would I opt to sit at a traffic light? I do really like
> the idea of prioritizing the traffic light system, though. Kenneth Hurst

The reason you would be motivated to set the value of your time
at its actual value is that setting it high costs you more. You would
save money if you set the value of your time lower.

The system would need radio signals from the cars. It would need
to calculate the cumulative value of the time of those sitting at the red
light, compared to the value of those with the green. The system
would only respond to those cars which can identify themselves to
the traffic light, for the persons who save time are those who will be
billed according to their own declaration of the value of their time.

The system would maximize its own profits by calculating how to
save time for the self-proclaimed most valuable persons, then
sending each a bill in accordance with that self-proclaimed value.
If someone does not pay their bill, they might be waiting longer
at the traffic light. There need not be any law that requires one
to pay one's traffic light bill, but the system would eventually ignore
the non-payer, or treat the non-payer the same as a car with no
self identifier, whose time value would be set to minimum wage,
for instance.

Consider an intersection where there are three east-westers whose
value is set at 10 dollars an hour. A yahoo is coming north to
south, late to pick up junior at daycare, which is charging him a
dollar a minute he is late. It pays the system to make the three
10-per-hours wait for the single 60 per hour. If the light turns
to save Daycare Dad one minute, he gets a bill for one dollar,
and its a breakeven for him, whereas the system lost only 50 cents
by holding up the three minimum-wage-proles, for a profit to
the system of half a buck, which goes to reduce the taxes for
all. Such a deal!

I need to write up a spreadsheet demonstrating how this would
work. I would welcome helpful suggestions. spike

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