Tube strikes can actually be GOOD for the economy - here's one killer reason

Tube strikes are actually good for the economy – we never thought “good” and “Tube strikes” could ever be used in the same sentence.

Research by academics from Oxford University and Cambridge University found that strikes in February 2014 will actually benefit the economy in the long-term.

The study found that one in 20 commuters affected by the strike was compelled to find an alternative route for their daily commute. The alternative route found actually proved to be more efficient for commuters and they intend to use if for an average of four years.

But how is that better for the economy?

The study, which examined 20 days’ worth of anonymised Oyster card data, found that the time gained by commuters using a new route exceeded the time extra time added to journeys of other commuters.

Tim Willems, of Oxford University’s department of economics, told the FT: “Given that a significant fraction of commuters on the London Underground failed to find their optimal route until they were forced to experiment, perhaps we should not be too frustrated that we can’t always get what we want or that others sometimes take decisions for us.”

Take a look at the full study here.

Here a brief synopsis of the study:

“We estimate that a significant fraction of commuters on the London underground do not travel their optimal route. Consequently, a tube strike (which forced many commuters to experiment with new routes) taught commuters about the existence of superior journeys — bringing about lasting changes in behaviour.

“This effect is stronger for commuters who live in areas where the tube map is more distorted, thereby pointing towards the importance of informational imperfections. We argue that the information produced by the strike improved network-efficiency. Search costs are unlikely to explain the suboptimal behaviour. Instead, individuals seem to under-experiment in normal times, as a result of which constraints can be welfare-improving.”

 

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