IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Is congestion pricing a first-best strategy in transport policy? A critical review of arguments

Listed author(s):
  • R H M Emmerink
  • P Nijkamp
  • P Rietveld

In this paper, the arguments used in the literature pro and contra congestion pricing are analysed. Although it is a first-best instrument in theory, it is argued that the assumptions needed to arrive at this conclusion oversimplify reality. In practice, congestion pricing is a second-best instrument with some advantages over other second-best instruments, but it will also give rise to numerous problems, as discussed in the paper. These problems will be illustrated with the Dutch attempts to implement an electronic road-pricing system. Some research issues relating to congestion pricing have been overlooked in the past. In the first instance, the behavioural side (motorists' responses) of congestion pricing has not been paid much attention. In general, it is argued that individuals are aiming to maximise utility (or minimise travel time). However, there seems to be an increasing recognition that this assumption does not properly describe reality. Second, the impact of the compensation scheme -- used to compensate drivers who are worse off under congestion pricing -- on the behavioural responses should be analysed more carefully in future work. This scheme might partly reverse the behavioural responses induced. Third, the welfare-generating properties of simple schemes should be looked at in future work. Fourth, given the potential opposition, we conclude that a cordon system, in which the price is dependent on the time of the day, is currently the most attractive option for pursuing a kind of congestion pricing. A cordon system might increase the individual's awareness of the costs of mobility during congested periods and be the first step towards more sophisticated pricing systems.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: abstract
Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

File URL:
File Function: main text
Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.

Volume (Year): 22 (1995)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 581-602

in new window

Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:22:y:1995:i:5:p:581-602
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:22:y:1995:i:5:p:581-602. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.