Road pricing projects have been implemented in many parts of the world, notably in the Czech Republic, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. A scan team from the United States traveled to Europe and Singapore to meet with transportation officials involved in implementation of road pricing programs and to learn firsthand about their approaches and practices.
The scan tour was sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NHCRP). The 10 members of the multidisciplinary scan team included transportation professionals from four State departments of transportation (DOT), one regional transportation agency, FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and private industry.
The team met with officials from Berlin, Germany; the Czech Republic; London, United Kingdom; Singapore; Stockholm, Sweden; and The Hague, Netherlands, from December 7 to 18, 2009. The face-to-face visits enabled participants to gain a deeper understanding of each host country’s history and context, the goals and objectives that were established, how road pricing was designed to address transportation and policy objectives, and the hurdles that were faced and how they were overcome. The exchanges provided an opportunity to gain in-depth understanding of program goals and methods, implementation costs, benefits, transportation impacts, revenue generation and use, operating and technical practices and their costs, financing approaches, effects on safety and the environment, and public acceptance.
Much like the U.S. experience, overseas road pricing projects have been met with considerable resistance and political and public debate. International examples indicate that public acceptance and approval of pricing programs improves significantly after project implementation, when the benefits and impacts can be weighed in tangible terms based on the context of its application. Based on discussions and observations made during and after the scan, the scan team developed a series of lessons learned.
Over a 12-day period, from December 7 to 18, 2009, a multidisciplinary scan team from the United States visited and interacted with the experts in Europe and Asia to develop an understanding of the institutional and technical factors that contributed to the successful implementation of road pricing. Major lessons learned are:
- Have a set of clearly defined goals. Host countries and regions with clearly defined and well-understood policy goals were able to achieve their targeted outcomes most effectively.
- Consider a large-scale demonstration project. A large-scale road-pricing demonstration project is a powerful tool for building public acceptance, allowing people to experience the benefits of congestion pricing.
- Measure the program performance. Thorough planning and performance measurement pay benefits in ensuring achievement of overall goals, managing the pricing program as an element of overall transportation system performance, and directing implementation and operations effectively.
- Link the pricing structure to user benefits. Linking the pricing structure to the benefits received by the user contributes to public acceptance and helps avoid the potential negative impacts of traffic diversion.
- Conduct an effective public outreach campaign. Public outreach and communications were key components of the program at every stage: before making the implementation decision, during the program design process, and during the operational phase.
- Implement an open-source system. Open-source system designs offer long-term advantages by leveraging market competition to manage implementation and operations costs, ensure system flexibility and scalability, and establish a foundation for system interoperability.
- Pay attention to interoperability. Interoperability among states and countries is recognized as a critical issue that needs to be addressed at high levels.
- Address equity and privacy concerns. Equity and privacy concerns are addressed by host countries through exemptions, revenue use, technology, and business rules.
- Integrate pricing program with transit investments and land use plan. The urban area pricing projects integrated public transit investments and land use planning to manage congestion.
Congestion mitigation is a central goal of the city-center urban road-pricing programs (e.g., Singapore, Stockholm) visited by the scan team. However, generally, road pricing was one element of a larger program of initiatives working collectively to address traffic congestion and its impacts. Road pricing programs that focus on traffic congestion have sustained traffic-reduction benefits improving mobility in the targeted geographic area.