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Road Pricing Context













Decision Making



Implementation and Evaluation



Case Studies






Dutch National Case









The Hague


Urban Road User Charging Online Knowledge Base

Comparison of Conclusions on our case studies


The London Congestion Charging scheme has been operational for almost 6 years. Extensive monitoring and data is now available1].

In the Central zone the overall conclusion is positive. Many of the fears, prior to implementation, amongst key groups such as the business (retail) sector have been allayed. TfL report that analysis of business performance (sales and profitability) and business start-up (VAT registrations) shows stronger – both absolute and relative – growth in the original central London charging zone post charging than prior to the introduction of charging in 20032].

Furthermore in the Central Zone bus service reliability and patronage both appear to have steadily improved over time, compared with pre-charging conditions, although there has been some indication that increased traffic congestion was beginning to impact on service performance, both within the charging zone and more widely across London. Again increased congestion in 2006 is considered by TfL to be largely due to a rise in the number of road-works in Central London and not the Congestion Charge.

Early results from the Western Extension are mixed. For example TfL on-street surveys found that over 90% of shoppers and diners in the western extension said that they had not changed their trip patterns since the introduction of charging3].

In terms of business performance, TFL believe that particularly in terms of profitability and productivity, any negative changes that have taken place have been due to externalities and are not as a direct result of the Congestion Charge. For example the retail sector has faced variable and challenging trading conditions throughout 2008. It remains a challenge to disaggregate such results and measure the direct impact of the Congestion charging scheme in isolation.

There is also some uncertainty about the continuing operation of the Western Extension. The Mayor of London announced in November 2008 that he has initiated the process to remove the Western Extension. This is in response to results from a non-statutory public consultation exercise.4]

1] Transport for London (July 2007) Central London Congestion Charging – Impacts monitoring Fifth Annual Report.

2] Transport for London (July 2008) Central London Congestion Charging – Impacts monitoring Sixth Annual Report.

3] Transport for London (July 2008) Central London Congestion Charging – Impacts monitoring Sixth Annual Report.

4] BBC News 27th November 2008.


The congestion tax trial in Stockholm has contributed to extensive experience of planning, design, procurement, legal and tax financial framework, implementation process, enforcement, impact assessment, acceptability etc in the field of urban road pricing.

The trial in 2006 was subject to an extensive evaluation in a multitude of dimensions. Major conclusions were:

  • Overall goals were essentially met
  • Traffic decreased by 22 % at the cordon during charging hours, and less inside the cordon. These effects were immediate and stable. Motor traffic decreased more than expected
  • Re-distribution of traffic with respect to time-of-day was less than expected
  • Delays (excess travel time during the peak) were reduced by 33 % on arterials leading to the city.
  • Traffic reductions lead to less environmental impact and better health. Vehicle emissions in the inner city were reduced by 8-14 %.
  • Public transport was an important part of the Stockholm Trial. Public transport ridership increased by 6 %.
  • Road safety was improved because of the reduced traffic
  • It was difficult to determine if inhabitants experienced improved city environment
  • Acceptability changed from a negative majority before the introduction to positive. For many citizens, the positive effects were observable by personal experience, which contributed to the change in public opinion.
  • The technical system works
  • The distributional effects (benefits and costs) vary among groups. Effects for disadvantaged groups were generally smaller than effects for middle and high income groups
  • There was a marginal affect on regional trade and commerce
  • Congestion charges are (macro)economically profitable.
  • The yearly revenue is calculated to be approximately €80 million.

The trial and the first year of permanent congestion tax in Stockholm show that charging schemes can lead to large impact compared to other types of measures, for example traditional infrastructure investments. Another lesson from the trial is that better and/or increased public transport cannot alone reduce road traffic.

Implementation of a charging scheme is unique due to local, regional and national prerequisites. However, the experience and databases from the Stockholm Trial contribute to profound knowledge in the field of urban road pricing, both as a platform for research as well as for new charging schemes around the world.

Furthermore, with a permanent introduction of congestion tax in Stockholm, we also see the need to increase our knowledge on how to operate and develop an urban road pricing scheme in a dynamic reality.


Further road pricing related activities will concern the access control of coaches. To date, their access is detected by the ANPR system, but after an early check they are left free to use the urban space independently from the permit they bought. A feasibility study on new technology application is being carried out by MIRACLES, and CURAÇAO will follow up by analysing a pilot application for the introduction of specific per-time road pricing policies.

Road pricing is supported by a comprehensive investment in parking pricing which will increasingly see the use of flexible parking fees and innovative payment systems (e.g. transactions though mobile phones “Pagososta” for parking fee payments, implemented on October 16th, 2006).


The Oslo toll ring has succeeded in speeding up the infrastructure investments in the Oslo region. In this way, investments in increased road infrastructure have counterbalanced the growth in traffic by a small positive margin (Lian 2004).

The environmental effects are positive. Air pollution levels do not seem to be negatively affected by the road investments. Local noise problems are reduced by the roads in tunnel and the fact that the traffic increase has occurred on main roads, supported by traffic management.

The general public view of the Oslo toll ring has been negative over the entire period. However, the attitude has changed over time. More people were negative before the toll ring was introduced compared to after. Also the price increase to finance Oslo package 3 reduced acceptability temporarily. When people are informed of the use of revenue, they turn more positive.

In light of the failure to implement true congestion charging schemes in urban areas (such as Edinburgh), it is clear that pure economic arguments are not enough. We live in a democracy, where economists and car drivers have the same right to be heard in general elections. The Norwegian urban toll schemes have developed with this as a clear prerequisite. This makes it necessary, also to consider the Oslo toll schemes in a political and organisational context, and consider the acceptability of the schemes discussed. Both the charging scheme and the revenue use is far from optimal from an economic point of view. Nevertheless, the Oslo packages have contributed to a more efficient transportation system both for roads and for PT. Also the packages have created a dynamic, where both the revenue use and the charging scheme have changed in the direction of a more economic efficient system. The proposed Oslo package 3 is another step in that direction.


In October 2007 a document entitled “Our Future Transport” was submitted to the UK Government Department for Transport (DfT). This document outlined the sub region’s 20 year transport vision and the part that the Transport Innovation Fund could play in realising this vision.

Since this submission, consultation has been conducted with a range of stakeholders and extensive further technical work undertaken in developing the detail of the proposals. In January 2008, the TIF project received a big boost when it was awarded an extra €850,000 by the UK Government to continue with the technical work needed to develop the proposals.

Subject to political approval by the four authorities, the proposals would be submitted to the UK government as an outline business case for the €1 billion package from the Transport Innovation Fund. Once, and if, this bid is submitted, extensive community and stakeholder consultation is to be carried out. A further three years technical refinement of the proposed transport measures and ongoing engagement will then follow.

The Hague

A preliminary conclusion of Spitsmijden is that rewards, whether monetary or in the form of a Yeti, lead to substantial decreases in number of car trips during rush hours. Both variants result in halving the total number of car trips.

One important observation is that a relatively low reward (€ 3) results to be the most significant effect for avoiding traffic. The additional value of higher rewards is relatively slight.

The participants who had chosen the Yeti variant also drove considerably less during peak traffic periods: 43% of them were observed to drive daily, and only 15% of them gained the reward.

Half of participants had little trouble in avoiding to drive during peak traffic periods. Those who did find it difficult claimed that it was due to obligations at home or work. Many participants had made agreements with their employers about their work times or for asking to work at home, and at home they had made agreements regarding household chores and scheduling.

The majority of participants resumed their old behaviour patterns after the conclusion of the experiment.

The reduction of traffic trips was largely realized by delaying or advancing departure times, as well as by a slight increase in the use of public transport. The majority of people who adjusted their behaviour chose to apply the best single option based on their personal circumstances (instead of a combination of options). More than half of participants found it relatively or very easy to adjust their behaviour. However, many specific individual circumstances can influence behavioural adjustment, and it is important to gain more understanding of them.

When a reward is offered for avoiding rush-hours traffic, two new traffic peaks arise: just before and just after the given rush-hours.


The models used should be further elaborated in order to define optimal rewarding schemes and amounts. Given the experimental phase in which the model application finds itself, it is not yet possible to deliver precise judge­ments regarding the extent of gains during travelling time.

The results achieved during the experiment, i.e. halving the number of rush-hours trips, will probably be impossible to realise during a large-scale version of the experiment with an identical set-up.

Before transferring Spitsmijden to another region, it should be noted that a too high reward and/or too many participants may lead to net losses in travel time. If these elements are set at the right level, however, significant gains in travelling time can be achieved along with a positive effect on traffic circulation. The concept and the technology proved to work quite well.

Second Pilot

In November 2008 the organisation started a new pilot ‘Spitsmijden’ which will run until December 2009. The difference between the two pilots is a longer route and the use of cameras and partly of GPS technology (some of the participants will receive a Rabo Mobile). The EVI-technique is currently not part of the pilot. They may approach participants during the pilot to participate in additional investigations, for which a different technique, such as EVI, will be used. Of course, the participation in an additional investigation will be entirely on a voluntary basis.

Another difference is that incentives are setup to promote the use of the train as an alternative way of mobility. To make the shift to train mode as easy as possible, NS-Business Cards will be offered via internet and a trip could be booked by phone.

The research questions for this pilot project are:

  • Can we achieve long-term behavioural change?
  • At what point is a change in trips of individual users realistic on the basis of possible reward: When and where do we measure effects?
  • Does Spitsmijden lead to unwanted effects elsewhere, and if so, when and which is the effect?
  • To what extent is the public transport in general, and specifically the train, a realistic alternative?
  • Has the concept similar effect in other circumstances, instead of the daily situation on the road? What would happen in case of road works?


The introduction of congestion charging in Durham has on the whole been well received by the local population. The charge to access Saddler Street has been successful in reducing traffic levels by 85%.

Durham County Council has received funding under the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) for further transport modeling work, including the option of introducing a wider congestion charge in the city and building a northern relief road. However, in December 2008 Durham County Council announced that it would not be pursuing a bid to the Transport Innovation Fund, effectively ending its interest in an expanded congestion charge zone in the medium term.


In spite of the referendum rejection, there are some positive aspects to the development of Edinburgh’s charging scheme. Many challenges were overcome, not least achieving a positive outcome from a public inquiry. The work undertaken demonstrated a clear public view that congestion is a problem and public transport needs improvement. The experience of Edinburgh in meeting the statutory requirements for introducing a congestion charging scheme should be of some comfort to other cities considering a similar scheme, as should Edinburgh’s success in developing cost-effective business systems for implementation.


Due to the success of Urban Traffic the city of Bologna is now going to extend the LTZ for 14 hectares more (+4.4%) and install new “SIRIO” and “RITA” cameras.



The Ecopass initiative will be accompanied by other important interventions like:

  • increase of bus lanes
  • growth of regulated parking zones
  • creation of new bicycle paths
  • increase of green zones
  • implementation of initiatives on energy efficiency (e.g. heating systems control, solar panels and district heating)

Some of these are already being implemented as demonstrated by the strengthening of public transport service which connects 32 municipalities of the urban area to the city centre with an increase of bus-ride frequency of 13% up to 20% depending on the line, and an increase of metropolitan lines equal to 27% during peak hours and 51% during off-peak hours.


The Bergen toll ring and the Bergen Programme have not undergone any external evaluations. Thus, the scheme results reported below is not very detailed.

  • One of the main reasons for the Bergen toll ring was to speed up the solution to the traffic problems in Bergen. This has been a success. Without the additional funds from the tolls and with the same level of public funds, congestion would have increased and the environmental suffered.
  • The system has changed over time to provide a more equal split of the burden enhancing the equity of the system.


In June 2008 Cambridgeshire County Council reported that there has been a mixed reaction during public consultation to the TIF proposals. This has led to the County establishing a commission of stakeholders that will assess the plans before moving forward. A timetable of review has not been established to date.

Cambridgeshire, like many UK local authorities, faces the many challenges of establishing a road pricing programme. Public and media pressure, mostly fear of the unknown and viewing road pricing in isolation and not as part of a package of demand management measures, do not help. This, combined with fears of a national recession and the rise in the cost of living in the United Kingdom in the last 12 months, adds to the problems of considering a charging scheme.

It remains to be seen whether Cambridgeshire will progress with their Congestion Charging package scheme. At this time the proposal is on hold.

Dutch National Case

The introduction of AbvM is still on track in the Netherlands, and is running fast ahead, towards the goals 2011 (lorries) and 2012-2016 (personal cars).

The system is still under restriction of Parliamentary approval. Soon there will be the first pilots in the Amsterdam area, using proposed parts of the future system.


The UK Department for Transport (DfT) approved “programme entry” for the package of measures associated with the introduction of a proposed Congestion Charge on 9th June 2008. The next stage, prior to the public rejection of the scheme in the referendum in December 2008 would have been to secure Conditional Approval for the scheme.

The proposed large investment package of £2.7 billion (3.2 billion)  that would have been made to the area’s public transport system before the scheme was operational was considered an important factor in the scheme proceeding.

There were a number of preconditions that were established by the AGMA for proceeding with the TIF bid – known as the AGMA tests – which were:

1.     There had to be significant investment in public transport improvements including Metrolink. Crucially, enhanced capacity would have been in place prior to the introduction of any traffic restraint measures.

2.     Measures had to complement the competitiveness and inclusion priorities of the City Region and would not have been allowed to undermine the competitiveness of the Regional Centre or the town centres in the area.

3.     Any (proposed) measures would have had to have been acceptable to both the public and business community.

4.     Measures would have been relevant to where congestion existed or where it would have emerged in the future, notwithstanding the advent of public transport improvements.

The rejection of the Manchester Scheme – The arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposal

It is difficult to quantify the argument ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposed congestion charge in Manchester. However, in the following paragraph we list not only why its supporters believed it could succeed but also some of the arguments against its introduction that may start to explain why the scheme was rejected.

Arguments for the congestion charge in Manchester

The context for the introduction of a Congestion Charge

·         Car ownership has increased by about 25% over the last decade in the Greater Manchester conurbation.

·         Building more roads is not considered to be financially possible or environmentally acceptable.

·         Local transport officials agree that if left unchecked, congestion in Greater Manchester will not only result in greater pollution and air quality and higher carbon emissions, but will also damage the local economy. This is also the view supported by United City – a group representing transport/property consultants and a number of developers.

·         It is claimed that less congestion would create 10,000 new jobs in Greater Manchester and provide a major boost for the local economy.

The proposed benefits

·         The congestion charge would have been offset by £2.7bn (€3.2 bn) of public transport improvements. The charge would not have been introduced until there were significant improvements to bus, tram and rail services such as extensions to the Metrolink network to parts of the Manchester conurbation, bus priority measures, extra rail capacity and creating more public transport interchanges at rail stations.

·         The congestion charge would not be in place until 2013 at the earliest.

·         It was considered that access to key services and jobs would have been improved for the 30% of households in Manchester who do not own a car.

·         Proposals to support low income workers with a potential discount of up to a fifth of the charge were highlighted in the public consultation.

Arguments ‘against’ the congestion charge in Manchester

Identifying the need

·         Those opposed to the scheme questioned the need for the charge. Figures produced by the Urban Traffic Control unit show that congestion in 11 of the 14 centres in Greater Manchester had fallen since 2001.

Increasing the costs of motoring

·         Opponents of the scheme have pointed out that it would cost motorists up to £1,200 (€1,440) a year to enter and exit the congestion zones. This was seen as an extra motoring cost.

Identifying the true costs of the scheme

·         Many of the actual costs of running the scheme were unknown and the technical details of the scheme were to be outlined after the referendum. This led to some misunderstanding of the actual proposals.

·         The level of borrowing to match the £1.2bn (€1.4 bn) TIF investment in public transport was considered by opponents to be high. The £180m (€196 m) per year projected profit to repay that loan over a 30 year period was considered optimistic. The main comparison in this regard was the London scheme.

Fear of the unknown

·         The Greater Manchester Momentum Group (a group representing 125 businesses and organisations) was against the proposed congestion charge. They believed it was bad for the economy at a time of rising fuel prices and falling house prices.

·         Hauliers were reported to be opposed to the charge, claiming that plans to install bus lanes on 25 routes into Manchester would halve road space.

The rejection of the proposed scheme

It is difficult to categorically state the reasons for the negative referendum result in December 2008 at this stage but some practitioners and commentators1] have offered the following as possible reasons:

·         The public misunderstood the proposals and thought that the congestion charge would apply anytime, anywhere.

·         The debate never focused on public transport improvements, just on the congestion charge.

·         The public did not believe that public transport would get better after Government Minister Alistair Darling withdrew Government funding from the Metrolink ‘Big Bang’ project in 2004. People therefore thought they would get the tax but not see the benefits.

·         The current economic climate means that people are less likely to vote for something that is perceived as another tax.

·         Greater Manchester’s governance structures did not assist with the prospect of delivering an ambitious transport project as a number of councils would have to agree on the proposals before they were accepted.

·         Assurances to the business community were not given as fully as they should have been and thus many were against the charge.

·         Campaigners for the congestion charge did not fully focus on the health benefits of the congestion charge.

·         It appears that campaigning was not at a local level and therefore did not touch on the issues that really mattered to the public. Benefits/costs should be defined on a community by community basis.

This does provide a number of considerations rather than direct lessons for other cities who may be considering urban road user charging, not least the apparent lack of confidence in the proposed scheme and how it was perceived. In time, there may be more defined arguments and reasons presented for the resounding public rejection of the proposal in the referendum, not least that the public were asked to decide on a hypothetical scheme before they could see the benefits of a ‘real life’ scheme.

1] The comments noted here were recorded in Local Transport Today.


The Nord-Jæren package has not undergone any external evaluations. However, Solvoll (2006) has looked into some of the scheme results:

  • The package has delivered some of the important investment projects. In particular, rail improvements.
  • The revenue was far below expected. As a result, the fee scheme was significantly changed to secure the funding scheme
  • The cost of operating the system has been far above expected. Initially, an estimate of NOK 11.5 mill (1.44 M€) was made for the first year of operation. The actually cost of operation has been more than twice this and increasing every year.


During 1992, the first year of operation of the Trondheim toll ring, inbound car traffic through the cordon decreased by 10% during both the high and low charged periods. This decrease in traffic was offset by increases in inbound car traffic in evenings and at weekends. Thus, over the week as a whole, total traffic volumes across the toll ring were virtually unaffected by the charging. For some trip purposes like inbound work-home and home-shopping, there were substantial shifts away from the charged afternoon period to the uncharged evening period.

When charging was terminated at the end of 2005, traffic impacts were in many ways mirror images of the impacts when charging was introduced. Changes in departure times and route choices were the most visible responses to the annulment of charging by car drivers. In general, the Trondheim charge levels were modest, but traffic still displayed sensitivity to tolls.

Model runs show that the removal of charging caused the private car to increase its modal share at the expense of all other modes. If charging had continued, increases in total number of trips would have been more uniformly distributed among travel alternatives.

Some important lessons from the history of the Trondheim charging scheme, adopted from Langmyhr and Sager (1997) and Langmyhr (2001):

  • Road pricing schemes can be hooked up with several interests and objectives which are likely to be negotiated and reinterpreted on several occasions throughout the long and messy policy process, even after implementation.
  • Compromises in the scheme design do not necessarily jeopardise the road pricing rationale or corrupt "rational" transport planning. It seems more fruitful to speak of changed emphasis responding to public attitudes and political preferences.
  • The often formulated ideal of one principal, unambiguous goal as the best way to implement road pricing or congestion pricing is not supported by the Trondheim case. Several objectives have been present, preparing some common ground for agreement and flexibility.
  • Experience from Norway clearly indicate that earmarking of revenues for specific purposes has been of major importance in securing local support for the cordon pricing schemes. 
  • "Immediate" road construction to relieve bottlenecks reduced the unpopularity of user fees. (In addition, user fees have been supplemented by state funds, thus increasing the total amount of investment resources.)

Evidence from Norway indicates that if the range of disbursement purposes becomes wide (i.e., less biased towards road construction), the role of the County Roads Offices as road pricing promoters may be jeopardised. Thus, a strategy for building scheme support through revenue allocation must rest on an assessment of the institutional system, especially an evaluation of which actors may serve as prominent "innovation" promoters.