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The unexpected "yes": Explanatory factors behind the positive attitudes to congestion charges in Stockholm

  • Eliasson, Jonas
  • Jonsson, Lina

Several authors have argued that acceptability for road pricing is likely to increase with familiarity. The experiences in Stockholm, where a trial period with congestion charges changed the public opinion from negative to positive, support this hypothesis. Analysing acceptability and attitudes in Stockholm allows us to study a situation where the population is in fact familiar with congestion charges, and explore what the decisive factors for acceptability are in such a situation. By analysing a survey collected after the referendum and the subsequent reintroduction of the charges, we analyse the prerequisites to achieve acceptability given that the public is familiar with congestion charges. As expected, low car dependence and good transit supply are associated with high acceptability. But the two most important factors turn out to be beliefs about the charges' effectiveness, and general environmental attitudes. The importance of beliefs and perceptions of the effects of the charges underscores the importance of both careful system design and careful evaluation and results communication. The strong connection between environmental concerns and positive attitudes to congestion charges underscores the importance of considering and "marketing" the charges' environmental effects. In Stockholm, the politicians' decision to "re-label" the congestion charges to "environmental charges" and emphasising their positive effects on air quality may very well have had a positive impact on acceptability.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transport Policy.

Volume (Year): 18 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 636-647

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Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:18:y:2011:i:4:p:636-647
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  1. May, A. D. & Liu, R. & Shepherd, S. P. & Sumalee, A., 2002. "The impact of cordon design on the performance of road pricing schemes," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 209-220, July.
  2. Isaksson, Karolina & Richardson, Tim, 2009. "Building legitimacy for risky policies: The cost of avoiding conflict in Stockholm," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 251-257, March.
  3. Gudmundsson, Henrik & Ericsson, Eva & Hugosson, Muriel Beser & Rosqvist, Lena Smidfelt, 2009. "Framing the role of Decision Support in the case of Stockholm Congestion Charging Trial," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 258-268, March.
  4. Schade, J. & Baum, M., 2007. "Reactance or acceptance? Reactions towards the introduction of road pricing," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 41-48, January.
  5. Winslott-Hiselius, Lena & Brundell-Freij, Karin & Vagland, Asa & Byström, Camilla, 2009. "The development of public attitudes towards the Stockholm congestion trial," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 269-282, March.
  6. Eliasson, Jonas & Mattsson, Lars-Göran, 2006. "Equity effects of congestion pricing: Quantitative methodology and a case study for Stockholm," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 602-620, August.
  7. 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.
  8. Thorpe, Neil & Hills, Peter & Jaensirisak, Sittha, 2000. "Public attitudes to TDM measures: a comparative study," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 243-257, October.
  9. Bonsall, Peter & Shires, Jeremy & Maule, John & Matthews, Bryan & Beale, Jo, 2007. "Responses to complex pricing signals: Theory, evidence and implications for road pricing," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 672-683, August.
  10. Björn Hårsman & John M. Quigley, 2010. "Political and public acceptability of congestion pricing: Ideology and self-interest," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(4), pages 854-874.
  11. Eliasson, Jonas, 2009. "A cost-benefit analysis of the Stockholm congestion charging system," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 468-480, May.
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