It is old news that congestion pricing was killed by the NYS Legislature this past April, but the idea that didn’t flourish here is quickly spreading to many other countries. As MTR has noted, the concept has been successful in London, Stockholm and Singapore (see MTR #s 311, 532, 562). That list looks to grow as countries look for more ways to calm streets, tackle air pollution and pay for public transportation. Here are some countries that have a charge in place, or will soon:
- Milan, Italy: The cosmopolitan city implemented the “EcoPass” cordon charge this past January to cut pollution and reduce traffic. Higher-polluting vehicles are charged more, with the revenue going towards “buses, cycle paths and green vehicles,” according to the BBC.
- Valletta, Malta: The “Controlled Vehicular Access” system (pictured above), implemented in May 2007, charges non-resident cars depending on how long they stay within the charge zone, limiting long-term parking and reducing traffic in the historic capital. The plan was named a best practice case study by the European Local Transport Information Service.
- Tel Aviv, Israel: By 2009, Motorists entering Tel Aviv will be charged NIS 25-50 (US $7-$15) to enter parts of the city based on time of day, area they are driving and the amount of pollution emitted by their car. The charge is meant to tackle the city’s huge traffic problem and encourage greater use of public buses. Revenue generated would help fund a long awaited light-rail system.
- Shenzhen, China: Looming in the future with an unspecified date, Shenzhen is to introduce a congestion charge for vehicles entering its downtown. Currently, officials are figuring out where the pricing zone will be and the amount of the charge. The revenue will be used to build infrastructure for public transportation.
Cities where congestion pricing is being considered:
- Seoul, Korea: The city government has proposed legislation to charge motorists who drive to stores and buildings in Seoul’s vehicle choked center. Mostly a traffic reducing measure for the city, officials tout its benefits for energy and the environment. If passed, the charge could begin March 2009.
- Greater Manchester, England: This December, residents of the area will decide through a referendum if they want a congestion charge. If yes, the charge will be implemented in 2013. The revenue generated would expand public transportation across the areas’ 10 boroughs with extra trains, buses and improved stations, with an additional £1.5 billion (roughly $2.8 billion) in investment coming from the central government.
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: A recent report issued by the country’s Department of Planning and Economy noted that traffic congestion and limited mass transit were inflicting a “heavy economic toll” on the city. The report lists a “demand management scenario” as one of four options to improve mobility and improve public transportation.
- Bangkok, Thailand: City government is conducting a feasibility study of implementing a congestion charge in Bangkok’s business district. The main impetus of the plan is to tackle the notorious traffic problem and encourage carpooling.
- Jakarta, Indonesia: Based on the recommendation of an outside consultant, the Governor is considering charging drivers as a way to ease traffic jams in the capital. The city is conducting feasibility studies now, but the plan could be piloted next year.
In the U.S., many cities are moving ahead with forms of congestion pricing. High-occupancy toll lanes, which let in carpools of two or three free and charge vehicles with fewer occupants, have begun operation or soon will in Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Houston. Chicago is set to variably price its parking meters, charging high amounts during the morning and evening rush hours. But so far, no other American city is close to implementing a London-style cordon charge, where drivers pay to enter the central business district or other parts of the city.