NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 31, 2006

Stockholm recently tested a new dynamic-pricing system for traffic-management as part of a plan to reduce gridlock, lower smog levels and improve quality of life in the city, says the Wall Street Journal.

Under the trial, drivers were charged different amounts for tolls, depending on the time of day.  For example:

  • Traveling the city center at the busiest time of the afternoon rush, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:29 p.m. would cost the equivalent of $2.76.
  • Waiting until 6:30 p.m. to travel the same roads would be toll free.

To deduct the appropriate fees, transponder boxes, laser detectors and cameras tracked the path of every car in the city, reading its license plate and checking it against vehicle-registration information, or used a windshield-mounted transponder.

Overall results showed:

  • Before the trial, a drive into the city during morning rush hour used to take almost triple the time of a nonpeak trip.
  • By the end of trial, the morning rush was just over double the time of an off-peak ride.
  • Traffic passing over the cordon -- the rings and zones that make up Stockholm's central roads -- decreased 22 percent.

The trial also allowed the city to collect data on how the system affected air quality, parking and public transportation use.  Those results showed:

  • Traffic accidents involving injuries fell by 5 percent to 10 percent.
  • Exhaust emissions, including carbon dioxide and particles, decreased by 14 percent in the inner city and by 2 percent to 3 percent in Stockholm County.
  • Use of all forms of public transportation jumped 6 percent and ridership on inner-city bus routes rose 9 percent during the period.

Source:  Leila Abboud and Jenny Clevstrom, "Stockholm's Syndrome," Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2006.

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