Equity Effects of Congestion Pricing: Quantitative Methodology and a Case Study for Stockholm

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - route design, land use - planning, policy - equity, policy - environment, policy - congestion, economics - revenue, economics - pricing, organisation - management


Value pricing (Road pricing), Travel patterns, Travel costs, Travel behavior, Traffic congestion, Time management, Stockholm (Sweden), Socioeconomic areas, Route selection, Route choice, Road pricing, Revenues, Public opinion, Persons by socioeconomic levels, Persons by employment status, Households, Gridlock (Traffic), Gender, Environmental policy, Environmental planning, Environmental management, Economic and social factors, Congestion pricing, Case studies, Assessments


It is widely recognised that congestion pricing could be an effective measure to solve environmental and congestion problems in urban areas—a reform that normally also would generate a net welfare surplus. Despite this the implementation of congestion pricing has been very slow. One reason for a low public and political acceptance could be that equity impacts have not been given enough concern. In studies of distributional impacts of congestion pricing it has often been claimed that the reform is regressive rather than progressive even if there are studies claiming the opposite. We develop a method for detailed, quantitative assessment of equity effects of road pricing and apply it to a real-world example, namely a proposed congestion-charging scheme for Stockholm. The method simultaneously takes into account differences in travel behaviour, in preferences (such as values of time) and in supply of travel possibilities (car ownership, public transport level-of-service etc.). We conclude that the two most important factors for the net impact of congestion pricing are the initial travel patterns and how revenues are used. Differences in these respects dwarf differences in other factors such as values of time. This is accentuated by the fact that the total collected charges are more than three times as large as the net benefits. With respect to different groups, we find that men, high-income groups and residents in the central parts of the city will be affected the most. If revenues are used for improving public transport, this will benefit women and low-income groups the most. If revenues are used for tax cuts, the net benefits will be about equal for men and women on the average, while it naturally will benefit high-income groups. Given that it is likely that the revenues will be used to some extent to improve the public transport system, we conclude that the proposed congestion-charging scheme for Stockholm is progressive rather than regressive.


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