Congestion Pricing’s World Tour

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.

7 Comments on "Congestion Pricing’s World Tour"

  1. Advocates of ‘Congestion Pricing’ claim that too many people driving their cars is the problem and the government should charge high tolls to stop them. Sir, people do not want the government to tell them where and when they can drive and enforcing it with exorbitant tolls.

  2. People are already paying the gas tax, in some states tolls – ‘congestion pricing’ – are suddenly being proposed on roads that are currently toll-free. This would be a form of double taxation, if it happens. This is a form of tyranny which must be stopped.

  3. Why do they even have cars in Malta?

  4. Edward: When people decide whether to drive on a given trip, they only think about the costs and benefits to themselves, not about the costs to the public. Congestion pricing makes them pay part of the cost to the public – the cost of congestion. They would have to pay much more to pay the full cost to the public – including the cost of air pollution, the cost of war for oil, and the cost of global warming.

    You say “people do not want the government to tell them where and when they can drive and enforcing it with exorbitant tolls,” but if a democratic government implements congestion pricing, that means THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO WANT to use tolls to reduce driving.

  5. Thomas Marchwinski | September 8, 2008 at 5:39 pm |

    Posts #1 and #2 reflect the so called “free market” view, but they fail to recongnize that the roads are not free, and that public transit was largely in private sector hands, until the “Free” roads built by that bogeyman government got involved. So it was government that disrupted the free market, so charging for roads is a free market solution, its called charge what the market will bear and pay for your total costs. Why should someone without a car continue to pay local taxes for police, insurance, maintenance, all not covered by the gas tax. Edwawrd is the free-loader getting by without paying, but of course its only a free market system if he gets to go for free. This is why its so difficult to get congestion pricing into place.

  6. In response to the following: “if a democratic government implements congestion pricing, that means THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO WANT to use tolls to reduce driving.”

    Tolls are unpopular and not desired by the people. It would by a tyrannical government that would try to exercise this level of control of its citizens, not a democratic one.

  7. Edward – you seem to want a ‘nanny state’ where the state gives us ‘free’ roads. They tried this experiment with housing back in the USSR, where everyone got housing for ‘free’. Which system gave better housing, the Soviet system or the American system?

    The type of ‘free’ I like is the ‘free market’, where if you use something, you pay for it. If I do decide I’m in a hurry and need to drive, I want to be able to get there, not be stuck in traffic – which your lovely system of road finance dooms me to.

    I also prefer to decide how to spend my money myself, rather than getting it taxed away to deliver overused and substandard roads to those who are addicted to driving. If you want to drive more than I do, pay for it from your own pocket, not from mine!!

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