Road User Pricing
Road user pricing refers to strategies that affect the cost of driving, including:
Road user pricing may be effective in reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). However, most studies on road user pricing do not study direct effects on VMT but on traffic volumes (Boarnet et al., 2014; Salon et al., 2012, paywall). While road user pricing reduces traffic volumes, it is not a clear relationship to VMT because there may be traffic diversions. Of all types of road user pricing, distance charging has the greatest potential for reducing VMT (Boarnet et al., 2014). Studies that have examined the impact of congestion pricing on GHG have found GHG reductions. Other potential co-benefits of road user pricing include reduced air pollution, congestion management, management of induced demand, and the creating a revenue source for transportation improvements (Boarnet et al., 2014).
Equity and Inclusion
Road user pricing can have adverse impacts on equity if these impacts are not considered and managed. Strategies for equity may address the basis of charging, the area covered by the charge, the time period covered, whether there are discounts or exemptions, and addressing other transportation charges, such as transit fares (Levinson, 2010, paywall). Some technologies used for congestion pricing require credit cards, which presents a barrier to unbanked individuals or those without credit cards. However, Manville & Goldman (2017, paywall) argue that the lack of congestion pricing on high-demand roadways is not an equitable strategy either; that is, congested free roads do not help low-income residents. A scoping review, acknowledging the limited evidence base with regard to health outcomes, found road pricing has mostly net positive effects related to a reduction in car trips, air pollution, asthma attacks, and road traffic collisions, and increases in life expectancy. Frequency and ease of social interactions were found to be negatively impacted, with fewer visits to family and friends. Benefits were found to accrue more to those with higher incomes, men, and people between the ages of 35-55 (Hosford et al., 2021).
Guides & Reports
Research Reports & Briefs