NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 18, 2009

Establishing more toll roads with "congestion pricing" rates -- higher fees during peak hours and lower fees during off-peak times -- is a simple way to reduce greenhouse gases, says National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, based on wasted time and fuel, congestion in 437 urban areas cost the nation about $78.2 billion in 2005.  However, other surveys have shown motorist resistance to congestion pricing or anything else that would raise the cost of automobile travel.

Yet, there is evidence that congestion pricing improves traffic flow, says the NCPA:

  • In London, after the adoption of congestion pricing, traffic declined by 15 percent and travel times declined by 30 percent.
  • Similarly, bridges and tunnels between New York and New Jersey experienced a decline of 7 percent during the peak morning period and 4 percent in the evening.
  • The reduction in pollution has also been substantial: London saw a 37 percent average increase in traffic speed, a 12 percent decline in particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and a 20 percent drop in CO2.
  • In Singapore, there was a 10 m.p.h. increase in average speed, a 45 percent reduction in congestion and 176,400 fewer pounds of CO2 emissions.
  • Stockholm's congestion pricing plan resulted in 15 percent decline in traffic congestion and up to a 14 percent decline in CO2 emissions.

To encourage widespread adoption of congestion pricing, the federal government could restrict federal funding or devote a share of the gas tax to new roads implementing such systems. Allowing private companies to compete for value-added toll road construction and ownership should speed the pace of construction and reduce the need to increase gasoline taxes, says the NCPA.

Source: Editorial, "Congestion pricing," Oil & Gas Journal, June 17, 2009; based upon: Iain Murray and H. Sterling Burnett, "10 Cool Global Warming Policies," National Center for Policy Analysis, Study, No. 321, June 3, 2009.

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