Title

OVERCOMING PUBLIC AVERSION TO CONGESTION PRICING

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2001

Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, planning - surveys, ridership - drivers, policy - congestion, economics - revenue, economics - pricing

Keywords

United States, Transportation policy, Surveys, Southern California, Revenues, Refunds, Public opinion, Motor vehicle operators, HOT lanes, High occupancy toll lanes, Drivers, Congestion pricing, Aversion

Abstract

The authors completed a survey, of Southern California residents, that examined whether the details of policy design can make congestion pricing more attractive to the motoring public. Congestion pricing consists of time-of-day or peak-period pricing of motor travel. Fees can be charged either for use of a section of highway at a particular time during the day or for entry into a zone. A congestion fee proposal is often regarded as simply a tax increase; also, especially in the United States, motorists apparently regard the use of congestion fees as coercive, in that they often have few if any practical alternatives to paying the fee. Unlike most opinion surveys on congestion pricing, the survey was quite explicit about the fate of the collected revenues. For example, the authors presented respondents with policies that returned a substantial portion of the revenues to the public, either in the form of cash (through reductions in sales taxes and vehicle registration fees or through income tax credits) or in the form of coupons to be used for vehicle emissions equipment repair, transit, and the like. In addition, the authors examined whether the typically intense opposition to congestion pricing would be lessened if the pricing was applied only to a part of a roadway, leaving the motorist free to choose between free lanes and toll lanes. The paper finds that a promise to offset the imposition of congestion fees with a reduction in other taxes can result in a 7% point increase in support for congestion pricing policies. Additionally, the restriction of congestion pricing to a single lane on a freeway attracts from 9% to 17% points of additional support.

Comments

Transportation Research Part A Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09658564