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Overcoming public aversion to congestion pricing

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  • Harrington, Winston
  • Krupnick, Alan J.
  • Alberini, Anna

Abstract

We have completed a survey of Southern California residents designed to examine whether the details of policy design can make congestion pricing more attractive to the motoring public. A congestion fee proposal is often regarded as simply a tax increase; also, especially in the US, motorists apparently regard the use of congestion fees as coercive, in that they often have few if any practical alternatives to paying the fee. Unlike most opinion surveys on congestion pricing, our survey was quite explicit about the fate of the collected revenues. For example, we presented respondents with policies that returned a substantial portion of the revenues to the public, either in the form of cash (through reductions in sales taxes and vehicle registration fees or through income tax credits) or in the form of coupons to be used for vehicle emissions equipment repair, transit, and the like. In addition, we examined whether the typically intense opposition to congestion pricing if applied only to a part of a roadway, leaving the motorist free to choose between free lanes and toll lanes. We find that a promise to offset the imposition of congestion fees by other taxes can result in a 7% point increase in support for congestion pricing policies, and the restriction of congestion pricing to a single lane on a freeway attracts from 9% to 17% points of additional support.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrington, Winston & Krupnick, Alan J. & Alberini, Anna, 2001. "Overcoming public aversion to congestion pricing," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 87-105, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:35:y:2001:i:2:p:87-105
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    1. Layard, Richard, 1977. "The Distributional Effects of Congestion Taxes," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(175), pages 297-304, August.
    2. Kraus, Marvin & Mohring, Herbert & Pinfold, Thomas P, 1976. "The Welfare Costs of Nonoptimum Pricing and Investment Policies for Freeway Transportation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 532-547, September.
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    5. Keeler, Theodore E & Small, Kenneth A, 1977. "Optimal Peak-Load Pricing, Investment, and Service Levels on Urban Expressways," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 1-25, February.
    6. Nevin, Michael & Abbie, Les, 1993. "What price roads? : Practical issues in the introduction of road-user charges in historic cities in the UK," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 68-73, October.
    7. Small, Kenneth A., 1992. "Using the Revenues from Congestion Pricing," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt32p9m3mm, University of California Transportation Center.
    8. Krupnick, Alan & Harrington, Winston & Alberini, Anna, 1996. "Public Support for Pollution Fee Policies for Motor Vehicles: Survey Results," Discussion Papers dp-97-13, Resources For the Future.
    9. Calfee, John & Winston, Clifford, 1998. "The value of automobile travel time: implications for congestion policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 83-102, July.
    10. Hau, Timothy D., 1992. "Congestion charging mechanisms for roads : an evaluation of current practice," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1071, The World Bank.
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