Congestion and variable user charging as an effective travel demand management instrument

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - travel demand management, planning - travel demand management, ridership - demand, policy - congestion, economics - revenue, economics - pricing, organisation - management, place - urban, mode - subway/metro


Variables, Value pricing (Road pricing), User charges, Urban areas, Trip reduction, Travel demand management, Transportation demand management, Traffic congestion, TDM measures, Road pricing, Revenues, Pricing, Metropolitan areas, Gridlock (Traffic), Conurbations, Congestion pricing, Congestion


Interest at the political level in congestion charging is gaining pace as cities struggle with ways to reduce the effects of growing traffic congestion on the liveability of cities. Despite a long history of promotion of a wide array of travel demand management (TDM) initiatives, very few have had a noticeable impact on the levels of traffic on the road networks of metropolitan areas. TDM success in this context has almost become a 'band-aid' in the absence of a pricing strategy that not only promotes efficient use of the system but also hypothecates revenues to support essential complementary infrastructure and services such as public transport. This paper takes a look at the stream of pricing consciousness that is surfacing around the world. Although very few jurisdictions have implemented congestion charging, or any form of efficient variable car and truck user charging, the winds of change are well in place. The adage "it is not a matter of if but of when" seems to be the prevailing view. Our overview of global trends in positioning the debate and hopefully follow-through commitment to implementation provides a backdrop to papers submitted for this special issue on travel demand management. The predominance of papers on pricing is indicative of the priority that must be given to efficient charging and revenue disbursement.


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