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.
Congestion pricing programs face political, institutional, and public acceptance challenges and concerns everywhere in the world. Over a 12-day period, from December 7 to 18, 2009, a multidisciplinary scan team from the United States interacted with the experts in Europe and Asia to develop an understanding of factors that contributed to the successful implementation of road pricing. Based on their international experience, the scan team offered the following lessons learned on addressing issues related to procurement of technology and associated legalities.
- Consider advantages of open-source designs in road pricing systems procurement. Open-source system designs create a competitive bidding environment for capital and operating costs associated with initial implementation, including system development and integration, roadside and in-vehicle equipment, construction, and back office.
Germany, The Netherlands: The German truck tolling system contract required a minimum of two vendors capable of providing in-vehicle units to ensure a competitive pricing environment. The Dutch system planning has expanded on this concept by proposing to allow multiple vendor solutions, creating a competitive environment for equipment and systems development and an open environment for value-added services that may defray costs and support public acceptance.
Singapore: In Singapore, second-generation stored-value smart cards for in-vehicle units are designed with an open standard to be interoperable with the transit system and permit interfaces with financial institutions and businesses. The new smart cards will allow value-added services and cashless payment options for many goods and services.
- Beware of potential legal challenges to procurement decisions and build contingencies in schedule.
Czech Republic, Germany,Sweden: Road pricing system contracts have been competitive and lucrative for the businesses supporting them, inviting contentious legal challenges to procurement decisions. Legal procurement challenges from vendors in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Stockholm affected implementation schedules and some system requirements. Procurements of this type are often delayed by challenges to the selection process, so it is advisable to build in schedule contingencies to accommodate these circumstances.
The Netherlands: The complexities of the Dutch procurement plans for open systems designs and significant private sector participation led the Netherlands to employ extensive risk assessment and cost estimation planning to assess private sector procurement options.
Road pricing programs implemented in Europe and Asia offer important lessons on exploring the use of market-based approaches to address traffic congestion and improve mobility. Procurement for a road pricing program must include adequate consideration of system design options (e.g., open-source design) and potential legal challenges to contracting decisions.