Road Congestion Pricing in Europe
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Road Congestion Pricing in Europe

Implications for the United States

Edited by Harry W. Richardson and Chang-Hee Christine Bae

In February 2003, the London Congestion Charging Scheme was introduced and in 2006 a similar policy was introduced in Stockholm. In both cases automobile traffic entering the cordon declined by about 20 percent. This book evaluates these and other similar programs exploring their implications for the United States. This study’s value lies in the fact that it examines road pricing in the real world and not simply from a theoretical viewpoint. As a comparative study it will appeal to both policymakers and academics in transportation economics and planning, urban economics, planning and economic geography.
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Chapter 16: The Puget Sound (Seattle) Congestion Pricing Pilot Experiment

Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Alon Bassok


Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Alon Bassok 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter reports on a federally-sponsored pilot project on road pricing in the Seattle metropolitan area. This is one of several such experiments in the United States (for example, in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon), and it takes place against a backcloth of much more attention being paid to road pricing than some years ago. While it is true that the primary driver is the transportation funding problem, road pricing in urban areas would have substantial congestion-reduction effects. The most interesting aspect of the Seattle experiment is its use of GPS (global positioning system) technology rather than the more standard transponder plus road sensors. Although the experiment is small scale, it offers opportunities to judge the feasibility of the GPS approach. If it works effectively, it is more suitable for a system-wide approach (that is, freeways plus arterials) than the alternatives. 2 RECENT TRAFFIC TRENDS The recent traffic experiences of the Seattle metropolitan area were summarized in a Washington State Department of Transportation report (WSDOT, 2006). The WSDOT bases its analysis on the empirically supported assumptions that a speed of 51 miles per hour (mph) maximizes traffic throughput, while congestion increases below 40 mph and becomes severe under 35 mph. In the two years (2003–05) of the WSDOT study, travel times increased on 34 out of major 35 commute routes in the peaks (defined somewhat traditionally as 6–9 am and 3–7 pm), with...

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