Tag Archives | Congestion Pricing

GPS Tolling Gets a Trial in Seattle

What if I said that I had a magic bullet that would guarantee citizens significantly less auto traffic congestion and provide beleaguered transportation departments with much-needed funds. How could you say no?

And yet, tolls and congestion pricing have long been considered political suicide in the U.S. However, in the face of shrinking transportation budgets and increasing congestion in cities around the world, we may have no other choice than to take another look at pricing schemes.
What if I said that I had a magic bullet that would guarantee citizens significantly less auto traffic congestion and provide beleaguered transportation departments with much-needed funds. How could you say no?

And yet, tolls and congestion pricing have long been considered political suicide in the U.S. However, in the face of shrinking transportation budgets and increasing congestion in cities around the world, we may have no other choice than to take another look at pricing schemes.

In fact, for the last few years, London has begun charging significant weekday tolls between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., resulting in a 30% reduction in peak-hour congestion (as well as a round-trip time reduction of 13%). London’s tolling program is also raising significant transportation revenue, which is being invested in improving public transportation. Here is the Victoria Transport Policy Institute’s study of London’s tolls (PDF, 513K).

A new study in Seattle is looking at if or how cash incentives (the carrot to tolling’s stick) alter driving habits. This Seattle Times article compares the reaction of two participants: one didn’t change anything about his commute, while the other reports that he “basically stopped driving.”

GPS monitors mounted on participants’ dashboards track their behavior and automatically deduct charges from prepaid accounts; they get to keep any money left in the account at the end of the study.

The study, called the “Traffic Choices Project,” will see how Seattle-area drivers respond to being paid not to drive during the busiest days, busiest times, and on the busiest roads. Study authors plan to measure any change in travel behavior as well as how participants feel about the impact of monitoring on their privacy. Here is more information about the study from Puget Sound Regional Council.