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 19: The Political Calculus of Congestion Pricing

David King, Michael Manville and Donald Shoup


David King, Michael Manville and Donald Shoup It has been a commonplace event for transportation economists to put the conventional [congestion theory] diagram on the board, note the self-evident optimality of pricing solutions, and then sit down waiting for the world to adopt this obviously correct solution. Well, we have been waiting for seventy years now, and it’s worth asking what are the facets of the problem we have been missing. Why is the world reluctant to do the obvious? (Charles Lave) 1 INTRODUCTION Transportation planners and economists generally agree that congestion pricing is the best way, and perhaps the only way, to significantly reduce traffic congestion, but most policy makers do not agree. Few elected officials with a sense of self-preservation will endorse a program that places new charges on a majority of their constituents. Pricing proponents often respond by arguing that although congestion pricing may be politically unpopular now, once it is implemented the public will understand its benefits, and its political problems will disappear. Implementation, however, will not solve the political problem, because implementation is the political problem. The political difficulty with congestion pricing is persuading people to do it in the first place, not in convincing them of its value after the fact. Congestion pricing has broadly distributed costs (most people end up paying tolls) and broadly distributed benefits (drivers suffer less congestion and the tolls can pay for added public services). What pricing lacks is a constituency that...

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