Today we review a comprehensive guide that describes the various steps necessary to develop and then implement a successful congestion charging system, borrowing on examples of established systems in Stockholm, London and Singapore, among others. Although aimed at developing countries, many of the principles and preparations needed are common to the developed world as well – such as, being prepared with responses to eight objections or concerns often made to any such scheme. The underlying objective has to include elements of fairness of application, as well as environmental and economic benefits with as few exemptions to being charged as possible.
“When people drive cars, they contribute to road damage, emit harmful pollutants, noise and vibrations and cause delays for others. Considering this, the travel decision of one individual imposes costs on others. In most transport systems the costs imposed on others are not fully paid for by the traveller. Congestion charging is a way to put such costs on drivers. “
“Arguments are that congestion charging (1) is unfair, (2) harms the privacy of citizens, (3) not achieve the intended effects and (4) will damage the economy. “
“The higher the charge, the lower the public acceptability is, and travellers with a higher value-of-time perception have a higher acceptance of congestion charging …Even if a high value of time may correlate with income levels, these two things are not the same.”
“Factors that affect public acceptance:
“Experience: The more experience …the higher the acceptance.
Dislike of government intervention: ..government should intervene as little as possible..
Interest in environmental issues: ..environmental problems are severe and need to be addressed will favour congestion charging more.
Value of time: The higher the perceived value of time.., the higher the acceptance for congestion charging… the more benefit travelers get in return for the paid charge.
Frequency of car use: The more travellers use their cars, the lower the acceptance level.”
“As soon as congestion charging policies become active - assuming all technologies function and the system is appropriately designed - people will find the system more acceptable. In most cases acceptability rises above a 50%.”
· Focus on impacts
· Do the homework
· Use models to forecast effects
· Prepare to respond to concerns
· Make revenues generated and how the money is spent transparent
· Invest in alternative travel options
· Let the functional design drive the technological solution
· Reduce political risk by building in redundancies that can later be removed
· Make sure people understand how to use the system
· Have a solid legal framework”