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Political and public acceptability of congestion pricing: Ideology and self-interest

  • Björn Hårsman

    (Dean Emeritus and Professor of Economics, Royal Institute of Technology)

  • John M. Quigley

    (I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor and Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley)

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    Studies of the “stated preferences” of households generally report public and political opposition by urban commuters to congestion pricing. It is thought that this opposition inhibits or precludes tolls and pricing systems that would enhance efficiency in the use of scarce roadways. This paper analyzes the only case in which road pricing was decided by a citizen referendum on the basis of experience with a specific pricing system. The city of Stockholm introduced a toll system for seven months in 2006, after which citizens voted on its permanent adoption. We match precinct voting records to resident commute times and costs by traffic zone, and we analyze patterns of voting in response to economic and political incentives. We document political and ideological incentives for citizen choice, but we also find that the pattern of time savings and incremental costs exerts a powerful influence on voting behavior. In this instance, at least, citizen voters behave as if they value commute time highly. When they have experienced first-hand the out-of-pocket costs and time savings of a specific pricing scheme, they are prepared to adopt freely policies that reduce congestion on urban motorways. © 2010 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20529
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 854-874

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:854-874
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    1. 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.
    2. Jens Schade & Bernhard Schlag, 2000. "Acceptability of Urban Transport Pricing," Research Reports 72, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
    3. Eliasson, Jonas, 2008. "Lessons from the Stockholm congestion charging trial," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 395-404, November.
    4. 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.
    5. Cherlow, Jay R, 1981. " Measuring Values of Travel Time Savings," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 360-71, March.
    6. DeSerpa, A C, 1971. "A Theory of the Economics of Time," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 81(324), pages 828-46, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Jonathan Leape, 2006. "The London Congestion Charge," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 157-176, Fall.
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