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Urban Road User Charging Online Knowledge Base
The main barrier in the implementation of the Oslo packages is the public attitude. The public attitude towards the toll ring has been negative over the entire period as will be discussed later.
Bekken and Osland (2004) investigated the political and administrative processes leading up to the Oslo packages. The study was carried out as part of a research project for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the EU project REVENUE. The main purpose was to understand how the Oslo packages were made possible and how compromises were fashioned. The study showed that this was accomplished through negotiations between stakeholders. Three important elements in that respect were hypothecation of the revenue for “high-profile” investments, low toll levels with large discounts for heavy users, and no time variation in the tolls.
Hypothecation is regarded as a sub-optimal approach from an economic perspective, but it is an integral part of most urban road-pricing schemes. A large degree of hypothecation up front has been important to make the Oslo packages politically viable. In particular, having funds earmarked for public transport and for use within the different regions, seems to be important.
The main focus of the implementation process in Oslo has been to find a compromise that is political acceptable to a broad group of political parties, rather than to select policy packages that are economically efficient. The result has been both increased investments in both public transport and road infrastructure. Furthermore, some high-profile investments (such as the metro ring) have been included to sweeten the pill. Yet surveys of the general public indicate that the Oslo packages would be turned down in a referendum. A preference survey of decision makers also supports this view. These findings highlight the challenges of implementing urban road-pricing schemes in democracies.However, the main driver behind the Oslo packages was the lack of public funds to finance infrastructure, both road and public transport. This was facilitated by the long tradition for toll financing in Norway.
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