OPTION - Optimizing Policies for Transport: accounting for Industrial Organization in Network markets


This research is financed by the ERC - European Research Council, Advanced Grant. 

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Start and end date

The project runs from 01-05-2010 to 01-05-2015.

Short introduction

The motivation for the OPTION project stems from the observation that current transport policy analyses typically ignore the strategic behaviour of ‘large actors’. To an increasing extent, however, it is realized that transport systems and markets are often more complex than perceived, due to multiple private and (semi-)public stakeholders with a more-than-marginal impact on the functioning of transport markets. Such ‘large actors’ typically pursue objectives that do not (fully) run parallel to the overall public interest. In such instances, central transport policies will not have the impact that is anticipated, because these large actors change their behaviour in response to central policies, thus affecting the market outcomes. This can dramatically affect the optimal design and impacts of central policies. The project develops models incorporating large actors for a number of specific cases, e.g. integrated airport-airline networks, rail-road competition, private road supply, insurance companies and traffic accidents, automated highways and electric vehicles, and taxi markets. These transport policy problems are not only of great academic interest, but also present some of the greatest challenges faced by transport policy makers in their daily operations. A specific methodological challenge is the analytical and numerical derivation of ‘second-best’ policy rules.

Final OPTION Conference - Industrial Organization in Transport Network Markets, 9 and 10 April 2015, Tinbergen Institute

The end of the ERC-OPTION project was marked by a final 2-day conference, organized on 9 and 10 April, 2015 at the Tinbergen Institute in Amsterdam. A full and intensive program with 36 presentations related to the theme of the OPTION project, Industrial Organization in Transport Network Markets was put together. All OPTION researchers from the department of Spatial Economics presented their work carried out within the framework of the project. Another 23 world leading experts in the field presented their research along the lines of the theme of the project.


Book of abstracts

Presented papers

Principal Investigator

Erik Verhoef

Senior researchers      
Jos van Ommeren
Jan Rouwendal
Achim Czerny
Eric Pels

Postdoc researchers       
Christiaan Behrens
Paul Koster
Vincent van den Berg

PhD students
Martin Adler   
Maria Dementieva
Or Levkovich
Hugo Silva
Ioannis Tikoudis
Harry van der Weijde




  • H.E. Silva Montalva: "Airport Pricing Policies: Airline Conduct, Price Discrimination, Dynamic Congestion and Network Effects" (8 April, 2015). (Co-)promotors: E.T. Verhoef and V.A.C. van den Berg. Available at: http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/52565 
  • I. Tikoudis: "Urban second-best road pricing: spatial general equilibrium perspectives" (9 January, 2017). (Co-)promotors: E.T. Verhoef and J.M. van Ommeren. Available at: http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/54965
  • A.H. van der Weijde: "The Industrial Organization of Transport Markets: Modeling Pricing, Investment and Regulation in Rail and Road Networks" (8 April, 2015). (Co-)promotors: E.T. Verhoef and V.A.C. van den Berg. Available at: http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/handle/1871/52564