Friday, June 7, 2013

Is Congestion Charging Inevitable for Australia Cities (and maybe elsewhere)?

Productive Cities: opportunity in a changing economy(51 page pdf, Jane-Frances Kelly and Peter Mares, Gratton Institute, May 2013)

 Also discussed here: Congestion Charges Necessary For Sustainable Australian Cities: Study(The Motor Report TMR, May 9, 2013)  

And here: Congestion charging for roads: local pressures and international experience(11 page pdf, John Daley, Gratton Institute, Jan. 31, 2011)
Today we review a research report from Australia’s Gratton Institute which examines the need for congestion charging to meet the challenges of congestion and its impact on the economy (doubling in the next decade to $20 billion/yr) as well as the need for new revenue to support other forms of transportation for those who commute. More than 80% of commuters are more than 45 minutes drive away from their place of work and this will only get worse with increased population and congestion and without road pricing.

Key Quotes:

“It is not enough to rely solely on building new roads without also paying attention to managing the demand for road space,”

“A more efficient use of road space could be achieved by introducing a pricing system such as road user charges, congestion charges or time-of-day tolling.”

Some important planning aspects:
  • A substantial proportion of congestion pricing revenue should be devoted to
  • public transport investments in order to meet equity concerns
  • Public support may also be increased through trial periods, express lanes, and
  • advocacy through non-government groups
  • At the end of the day, some political courage may be required, but public support may well increase after congestion pricing is in place.
Forces are converging to change road pricing:
  • Increasing congestion costs due to population growth and car growth, Reduced air quality and higher carbon emissions
  • Fuel excise revenue at risk (improved fuel efficiency, potential switch to electric cars)
  • Technology enabling cost-effective congestion charging
“The ‘avoidable’ cost of congestion in Australia’s capital cities was estimated at $9.4 Billion in 2005 and projected to escalate to more than $20 Billion by 2020”

“Many outer suburban locations in Australia’s four biggest cities provide access to less than 20 per cent of available metropolitan jobs within a 45-minute car journey. If the trip is made by public transport, access is far more limited.”

“But we need to start the discussion on a different form of charging for road use and what the funding arrangements are for the revenue.”

“The charge should be a fair one, and revenue should be directed to all forms of transport, including public transport.”
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