Congestion pricing – is it an option?

The Victorian Government has confirmed that it is not considering a congestion tax for Melbourne’s gridlocked roads, despite a
submission by Acil Tasman (an economic consulting firm) proposing charging cars
and trucks each time they enter the CBD and inner suburbs, saying the money
could be used to improve roads and public transport. According to the
consultants’ report, congestion has caused average traffic speeds in Melbourne
to slow by 5km/h since 1998.

It also says that Sydney could benefit from a congestion tax similar to those already imposed in major international cities,
including London and Singapore.

Meanwhile, the US magazine The New Republic recently published an article examining congestion in the US; the factors behind it, and
whether a congestion tax could be the answer.

In a forthcoming article in the American Economic Review, researchers Gilles Duranton and Mathew Turner examined new data on city
level traffic from 1983 to 2003 across a range of US cities, and –
unsurprisingly – found that building more roads leads to more traffic. They identified
three key sources of traffic growth:
– people drive more as more roads are provided,
– commercial uses (trucking, buses, etc.) increase in
a similar fashion
– people move to cities which offer better road
infrastructure, whilst increasing demand will drive increased supply

They also found that increased transit provision does
not reduce traffic, though they caution that transit is still of vital
importance. The authors conclude that if more roads and transit aren’t the
solution, then one of the few other tools available is the implementation of congestion

The article explores several congestion pricing
examples underway in the US, but point out that the public support for
comprehensive congestion pricing is very low throughout the country
(notwithstanding the very positive feedback from European counterparts).
Understanding the public resistance and working together with the public,
governments and planners to design sustainable solutions is paramount.

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our blog
  • You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Subscribe to receive the latest Wayfinding Blog straight to your inbox.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.