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Edinburgh's Congestion Charging Plans: An Analysis of Reasons for Non-Implementation


  • Tom Rye
  • Martin Gaunt
  • Stephen Ison


The City of Edinburgh in Scotland in the UK had advanced plans for a congestion charging scheme until 25 February 2005. However, these plans were abandoned at that time after a referendum that resulted in a ‘no vote’. This paper explains the origins of the scheme, outlines its nature, extent, charging technology and predicted effect; it also analyses the difficulties that exist when attempting to plan and implement such a scheme in a particular governance context, and when there is little unanimity of public opinion about the need for a scheme. As well as the primary documentation from the proposals (e.g. public inquiry submissions, papers to government), the paper also draws upon a series of face-to-face interviews that were undertaken with key stakeholders. It also provides an analysis of press coverage in the local (Edinburgh) and national (Scottish) newspapers in the run-up to the referendum. These sources explain both the systemic and more local barriers to the scheme's implementation. The paper draws key lessons which are important for authorities considering the implementation of a road user charging scheme, by suggesting how legislative and governance barriers to implementation can be reduced. The lessons are of relevance world wide.

Suggested Citation

  • Tom Rye & Martin Gaunt & Stephen Ison, 2008. "Edinburgh's Congestion Charging Plans: An Analysis of Reasons for Non-Implementation," Transportation Planning and Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(6), pages 641-661, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:transp:v:31:y:2008:i:6:p:641-661
    DOI: 10.1080/03081060802492686

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    Cited by:

    1. Morton, Craig & Lovelace, Robin & Anable, Jillian, 2017. "Exploring the effect of local transport policies on the adoption of low emission vehicles: Evidence from the London Congestion Charge and Hybrid Electric Vehicles," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 34-46.
    2. Pierre Basck & Charles Raux & Jonas Westin & Joel P. Franklin & Stef Proost, 2012. "CoAccept. Coordination politique et acceptabilité des péages routiers. Rapport final," Working Papers halshs-01707861, HAL.
    3. Morton, Craig & Mattioli, Giulio & Anable, Jillian, 2021. "Public acceptability towards Low Emission Zones: The role of attitudes, norms, emotions, and trust," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 256-270.
    4. Marsden, Greg & Groer, Stefan, 2016. "Do institutional structures matter? A comparative analysis of urban carbon management policies in the UK and Germany," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 170-179.
    5. Sørensen, Claus Hedegaard & Isaksson, Karolina & Macmillen, James & Åkerman, Jonas & Kressler, Florian, 2014. "Strategies to manage barriers in policy formation and implementation of road pricing packages," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 40-52.
    6. Westin, Jonas & Franklin, Joel P. & Proost, Stef & Basck, Pierre & Raux, Charles, 2016. "Achieving political acceptability for new transport infrastructure in congested urban regions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 286-303.
    7. Akgün, Emine Zehra & Monios, Jason & Rye, Tom & Fonzone, Achille, 2019. "Influences on urban freight transport policy choice by local authorities," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 88-98.
    8. Özgül Ardıç & Jan Anne Annema & Eric Molin & Bert Wee, 2018. "The association between news and attitudes towards a Dutch road pricing proposal," Transportation, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 827-848, May.
    9. Vonk Noordegraaf, Diana & Annema, Jan Anne & van Wee, Bert, 2014. "Policy implementation lessons from six road pricing cases," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 172-191.
    10. Velaga, Nagendra R. & Pangbourne, Kate, 2014. "Achieving genuinely dynamic road user charging: issues with a GNSS-based approach," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 243-253.
    11. Chung, Younshik & Song, Taijin & Park, Jungsik, 2012. "Freeway booking policy: Public discourse and acceptability analysis," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 223-231.
    12. Jens West & Maria Börjesson, 2020. "The Gothenburg congestion charges: cost–benefit analysis and distribution effects," Transportation, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 145-174, February.
    13. Vigar, Geoff & Shaw, Andrew & Swann, Richard, 2011. "Selling sustainable mobility: The reporting of the Manchester Transport Innovation Fund bid in UK media," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 468-479, March.
    14. Marsden, G. & Frick, K.T. & May, A.D. & Deakin, E., 2011. "How do cities approach policy innovation and policy learning? A study of 30 policies in Northern Europe and North America," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 501-512, May.
    15. Christiansen, Petter, 2018. "Public support of transport policy instruments, perceived transport quality and satisfaction with democracy. What is the relationship?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 305-318.
    16. Marsden, Greg & Rye, Tom, 2010. "The governance of transport and climate change," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 669-678.

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