What are the Health Benefits of Congestion Pricing?

Congestion Pricing, Air Pollution, and Urban Health (11 page pdf, Emilia Simeonova, Janet Currie, Peter Nilsson and Reed Walker, American Economics Association Meeting, Chicago, Jan. 2017)

Also discussed here: Driving Fee Rolls Back Asthma Attacks in Stockholm (Nala Rogers, Inside Science. Feb. 2, 2017)

Today we review research on the impact of the introduction of congestion pricing in Stockholm, in 2006, and the reduction of traffic that followed on the health of children in that city. Pollution levels in that city are lower than EPA’s standards. Results indicate that the pricing system caused a drop in traffic volumes by 25%, reductions in NO2 and particulate (PM10) pollution of 5 and 10% and a reduction in asthma cases by 12% in the first  seven months which increased to 45% over the longer term (several years). While the benefits in other cities with fewer diesel vehicles (emitting PM) may not be as great, it is clear that there are benefits even when the air quality in a given city (such as Ottawa) is considered “good” and that there are negative health impacts that begin at lower thresholds than EPA standards project.


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How do Travel Demand and Economics Affect the Development of Urban Road Networks?

A Model of the Rise and Fall of Roads (33 page pdf,  Zhang, LeiLevinson, David M, Systems Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mar. 2004)

Today we review a seminal paper from over a decade ago that examines the dynamics of road development in a major mid-West American city (Minneapolis-Saint Paul) using a model that combines measures such as travel demand statistics (usually found on Origin Destination studies) with the economics of road pricing or tolls, geographical constraints (such as rivers and mountains) and how these change with newer technology over time (in this case over 20 years). Roads represent both figuratively and physically the link that join the issues addressed in this blog: how traffic is linked to pollution and how pollution is linked to health. Of particular interest is the way that travel demand and road volume capacity (VC) interact with road tolls and the cost of road construction and the resulting revenue that may be used to ease congestion, in addition to the overall design of the road network and design for a major urban area.


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How well did London’s Congestion Charge Perform?

London Congestion Pricing – Implications for Other Cities (5 page pdf, Todd Litman, CESifo DICE Report 3/2005, Mar. 2005)

Today we review a paper that assessed the performance of the London Congestion Charge after it had operated for 2 years. The winners include bus and taxi users, pedestrians and cyclists  and motorists with high value trips and most city centre businesses with congestion delays reduced reduced by 50% and net annual revenue of 97 million UK pounds to support transit/pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Losers include motorists with marginal value trips and riders and motorists in border areas who a 10% increase in  spillover traffic (but no more delay because of proactive action to adjust traffic signals).  The London congestion charging system was a first for Europe and probably stimulated similar initiatives in Stockholm, Sweden Trondheim, Norway and Singapore in Asia.


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A Congestion Charge for Downtown Toronto: An Analysis

Revenue Options Study: Cordon Congestion Charges (185 page pdf, KPMG for City of Toronto, Jun. 2016)

Also discussed here: Report lays out hundreds of millions in potential new tax dollars for Toronto (Jeff Gray, Toronto Globe and Mail, Jun. 21, 2016)

Today we review a report by KPMG for the City of Toronto in which the option of a morning rush hour congestion charge is considered in the Toronto downtown south of the 401 between Bathurst and Bayview. Another road pricing option:applying a toll on the Don Valley Expressway is not included in this study and is being considered separately. A daily charge of $5 to $20 at each cordon would yield up to $377M/year in net revenue with 33% overhead. This in turn would cost the average household in Toronto $120 /year with 35% of the revenue coming from visitors.

The overall conclusion: “In general, a cordon charge would have a positive impact by reducing traffic, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing transit ridership.” and “The net revenue from cordon charges should have a high degree of stability in the long-term.” Implementation costs for congestion charges are high enough to consider as well the option of increasing parking rates in the downtown which would bring in similar revenues (and this seems to be favoured by the Mayor).

English: Toronto Downtown Core, at nite from C...
English: Toronto Downtown Core, at nite from CN Tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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All about Carbon Pricing: Carbon Tax? Cap and Trade?

Putting a Price on Carbon: A Handbook for U.S. Policymakers (56 Page pdf, Kevin Kennedy, Michael Obeiter, And Noah Kaufman, World Resources Institute, Apr. 2015

Today we review a handbook to implement carbon pricing– either by tax or by cap and trade– in the USA. Among the points noted were that a low to moderate tax alone would be “highly unlikely” to meet the UN’s goal of keeping global warming to less than 2 C (as recommended by 195 states at COP21 in Paris). Technological innovations subsidized by government are also needed and these can be funded from carbon tax revenue as well as other benefits such as tax cuts, return of money to households and electric users, and helping those directly harmed by carbon taxes as well as reducing national debt. Canada and the USA are well behind Scandinavian countries (such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, beginning in the early 1990s)  to establish a national carbon tax, although at the sub-national level,  California and Western states, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have started to price carbon in recent years. Another interesting point is that a moderate carbon tax of $28/tonne applied to the USA would impact low income earners by 2.5% (and high earners by only 1%). This identifies the need to neutralize the regression effects by subsidizing the low income group by this amount.

carbon pricing basics

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What are the Best Incentives to Buy an Electric Car?

Incentives for promoting Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) adoption in Norway (12 page pdf, Kristin Ystmark Bjerkan, Tom E. Nørbech, Marianne Elvsaas Nordtømme, Transportation Research Part d 43, ScienceDirect, Jan. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: What are the most effective ways of promoting electric cars?  (Science for Environment Policy, European Commission, Apr. 22, 2016)

Today we review research on which incentives are the most effective in selling battery electric (BEV) cars based on a survey of Norwegians. The survey analysis considered low and high income levels, the differing impacts of reduced (or subsidized) cost at purchase to ongoing costs and benefits such as exemption from tolls. The typical Norwegian owner of an e-car is male, aged 36-55, high income, university education and living in the capital (Oslo). The single biggest factor was the initial purchase price (with discounts), followed by (exemptions from) congestion or road pricing, followed by free access to bus lanes. This supports the tactics used by governments in countries, such as Canada, in offering significant discounts for new e-car purchases and less emphasis on using exemptions from road tolls (even though road pricing is much less used and there are far fewer electric cars on the road in this country compared to Norway).

ecar incentives

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What are the Overall Benefits of Road Pricing beyond Revenue Generation and Congestion Management?

Next Generations of Road Pricing: Social Welfare Enhancing (15 page pdf, Omid M. Rouhani, Sustainability, Mar.11, 2016)

Today we review a paper that looks beyond the two factors often used to justify road pricing: raising cash and reducing traffic congestion. Some of those factors are public acceptability, equity and the fact that only 26% of the important factors are generic- much depends on local factors that differ from one location to another – which perhaps explains why congestion pricing (and carbon taxes for that matter) are overwhelmingly accepted in places such as Stockholm and British Columbia but vigorously rejected by the public in many US and Canadian cities.

Some of the implementation decisions involve the spillover of traffic from a tolled road to its neighbours (which supports the notion of tolling existing roads and not just new ones) and then need for alternatives to road use (i.e. walking, cycling, public transit) for those who need to travel and the need for flexibility in terms of the rate to be charged and finally the need to make clear at the onset the overall benefits or welfare to the travelling public.

road pricing welfare

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Does the End of Privately-Owned Cars Mean the End of Parking ?

The High Cost of Minimum Parking Requirements (27 page pdf, Donald Shoup, Transport and Sustainability, 2014)

Also discussed here: Autonomous cars and the end of parking (Scott Forman, sjforman, Feb 21. 2016)

Today we review an intriguing column that looks at the problem presented in many cities by mandated indoor parking requirements and outdoor parking spaces that create as much as 40% of the paved urban surface area- as well as requiring the use of carbon-based asphalt in their construction and maintenance and an added building cost of $32K per space. One result of autonomous, self- driving cars could be no need for parking spaces, especially privately-owned ones, as the robot cars will continue to move around the city to meet demand and, when not needed, will simply drive to unused parking spaces in the outskirts.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone- end vehicles emissions with electric robot cars and make much better use of the wasted space now solely dedicated to parking.


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How Big is the Global Stranded Carbon Assets Problem?

The tragedy of the horizon (John Lorinc, Corporate Knights, Jan. 19, 2016)

Also discussed here: The $2 trillion stranded assets danger zone: How fossil fuel firms risk destroying investor returns (32 page pdf, Carbon Tracker, Nov. 2015)

Today we review a speech by the former Governor of the Ban of Canada (currently Governor for the Bank of England) given just before the Climate Conference in Paris and a report by Carbon Tracker which defined what oil, gas and coal resources must be left in the ground if the atmospheric CO2 has to be kept below 450 ppm which is equivalent to keeping the rise of global temperatures to less than 2 deg C. The best estimates are that between a fifth to one third of existing carbon reserves must be kept in the ground with most attention to coal then oil then natural gas. The Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) “solution” (which is hyped by politicians, especially in Canada, adverse to restricting oil production) is not seen as having a significant role until 2050 or later- when action between now and 2050 is the critical period to reduce CO2 emissions, confirmed by the conclusions and agreement at Paris. Put in banking terms, the total value of stranded assets could be over $100 trillion. The other reality is that when the market discovers that there is no future for carbon fuels beyond the short term, the prices and intrinsic value of equities in these markets will be “re-priced”- which is what gets the attention of people like Carney.

stranded carbon history

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Is Now the Time to Price Traffic Congestion in Large Canadian Cities?

We Can’t Get There From Here: Why Pricing Traffic Congestion Is Critical To Beating It (59 page pdf, Chris Ragan, Elizabeth Beale, Paul Boothe, Mel Cappe, Bev Dahlby, Don Drummond, Stewart Elgie, Glen Hodgson, Paul Lanoie, Richard Lipsey, Nancy Olewiler, France St-Hilaire, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, Nov. 1, 2015)

Today we review a comprehensive and up to date look at the state of traffic congestion in Canada and has key recommendations to implement congestion pricing in its four largest cities. The first recommends tailoring the approach to the particular needs of the city- whether it is HOT lanes in the GTA and Calgary or applying variable pricing to the bridges or tunnels that connect Vancouver and Montreal to the mainland. Provincial governments are essential to provide funding for pilot projects to get the public used to and supportive of pricing, as well as providing the legislative authority to implement them in municipal jurisdictions that often overlap responsibility for roads and corridors. The federal government as well must share the costs- what a better time than now for the newly elected government in Ottawa? The drop in oil and gas prices (which may rise again in the next few years) also presents an opportunity to generate revenue from traffic congestion pricing without inflicting undue harm on the economy and the driving public.

cdn traffic pricing

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Why Not Apply the User Pay Principle to Road Users? A Case for Road Pricing

Who Pays for Roads? – How the “Users Pay” Myth Gets in the Way of Solving America’s Transportation Problems (45 page pdf, Tony Dutzik and Gideon Weissman, Phineas Baxandall, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Also discussed here: Report: 21st Century Transportation (Press Release, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of road costs in the USA (also applies to Canada) which shows increasingly that the tax on fuel for vehicles pays less and less of the overall costs for roads which include construction and maintenance, snow clearance, the health costs of air pollution from vehicle emissions, etc that amount to $10 to $40 B/ year attributable to driving. This is more than the costs of transit, passenger rail travel, cycling and walking combined. The balance of the costs not funded from gas taxes is borne by property taxes and general tax revenue which, in cities such as Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is more than the cost of police services or public transit. This is a clear call for road pricing which would relieve the tax burden of those who do not use roads and go beyond flat and partially subsidized road tolls.

user pay for roads

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Six Principles to Implement Carbon Pricing Quickly, Fairly and Cost-Effectively

The FASTER Principles for Successful Carbon Pricing: An approach based on initial experience (49 page pdf, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group (WBG), Sep. 20, 2015)
Also discussed here: New Principles to Move on a Low Carbon Path, amid Growing Momentum for Carbon Pricing (Press Release, World Bank, Sep. 20, 2015)

Today we review proposals from the World Bank and OECD to implement carbon pricing around the world based on experiences from 40 nations and 23 cities. Wider adoption by other countries has the potential to both reduce carbon emissions and to raise significant revenue that could accelerate emission reductions and climate adaptation: up to $400 B by 2030 and $2.2 trillion by 2050.


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Priorities Needed to Achieve a Low Carbon World

World Energy Trilemma – Priority actions on climate change and how to balance the trilemma (57 page pdf, World Energy Council, 2015)

Also discussed here: Paris, give us carbon pricing, but give us market mechanisms too! (Joan MacNaughton, World Energy Trilemma, World Energy Council, Sep. 23, 2015)
Today we review a report and recommendations from the World Energy Council, aimed at the COP21 climate conference to take place in Paris in December 2015. Among the important factors that need to be considered in setting a global goal to remain below 2 C warming target is the need to recognize different energy dependencies in various countries and sub-regions, the need to have carbon pricing in place, in order to allow the successful implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) without which achievement of the goal is impossible and the major role for the private sector, especially in controlling emissions from the supply chain. For example, the differences between the carbon pricing strategies of fossil fuel provinces in Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland) and low carbon energy producing provinces (British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) and the mix of carbon tax and cap and trade approaches show how local situations lead to different low carbon solutions.

world energy council

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How do Stranded Assets Interfere with Carbon Taxes to Achieve a Low Carbon Economy?

Assessing carbon lock-in (8 page pdf, Peter Erickson, Sivan Kartha, Michael Lazarus and Kevin Tempest, Environ. Res. Lett., Aug. 25, 2015)

Today we review the results of economic modeling which examined how high carbon emitters and their infrastructure and supporting networks tend to discourage attempts to transform society to a low carbon economy in time to avoid exceeding the 450 ppm/2 deg C warming that is the global target. Results show that coal fired power plants are the biggest obstacle world-wide and their lifetimes lasting decades also discourage early conversion to low catrbon. . The model also predicts what level of carbon price would make continued investment in these old technologies uneconomic. Coal power plants require a carbon tax above $30 US/tonne. Other stranded assets include gas power plants and combustion engine cars and their economic carbon tax trigger point is higher than for coal.

overcommitted emissions

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Using Congestion Pricing to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Research on Urban Road Congestion Pricing Strategy Considering Carbon Dioxide Emissions (20 page pdf, Yitian Wang, Zixuan Peng, Keming Wang, Xiaolin Song, Baozhen Yao, and Tao Feng, Sustainability, Aug. 6, 2015)

Today we review research into models of congestion pricing to reduce both traffic congestion and the emissions that are produced by stop and go traffic- something that is not usually considered when planning congestion pricing because of the difficulty in measuring actual road emissions. The fact that road emissions make up 80% of transportation GHG emissions makes this assessment very important when emission reduction, especially in cities, is the goal. Results indicate that achieving both objectives is feasible with emissions falling by 19%, and modal car use falling from 70% to 56% with increased use of public transit.

congestion pricing and ghgs

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How Could Carbon Pricing Reduce Canada’s CO2 Emissions?

The Case for a Carbon Tax in Canada – Setting Course for a Low-Carbon Economy (286 page pdf, pp 98-135, Nicholas Rivers, Canada 2020, Jun. 18, 2015)
Also discussed here: World Energy Outlook Special Report 2013: Redrawing the Energy Climate Map  (134 page pdf, International Energy Agency, Jun. 10, 2013)

Today we review a paper that examines the benefits and myths about carbon taxes and then suggests ways of implementing them in Canada. The main benefit which has been seen by administrations that have done it (such as British Columbia) is that it is 40%-90% less costly to implement than by regulation. The “unpopular” myth is contradicted by polls showing support by a majority of Canadians and business and even by oil companies whom politicians are trying to “protect”. The “ineffective” myth is proven incorrect from BC where emissions were reduced by 10% and in the UK where they fell by 18%. A simple tax on all carbon fuel burned is proposed with the main decision by government on what level to set the tax – which could be set to the social cost of carbon which has been at about $40/t CO2 which would raise about $25 B in revenue each year (enough to subsidize low income people impacted by the tax as well as to return revenue to the public as a whole through lower income taxes).

co2 emissions canada 2013

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When to Apply Maximum Charges to Relieve Congestion?

A Bathtub Model of Downtown Traffic Congestion ( 8 page pdf, Richard Arnott, ACCESS, University of California, Jun. 10, 2015)
Today we review an analysis of the degree of congestion as a function of the timing of commuting and how applying a congestion charge can alter the flow sufficiently to allow free flowing traffic. This approach is called the bathtub model as it resembles the flow of water through a drain- as the water depth builds up the drainage rate increases up to a critical point when it decreases. In the same way, traffic reaches full congestion and then the flow slows down. Applying higher tolls as the traffic begins to reach the critical point reduces the traffic density and allows the flow to increase again.

bathtub graph

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A Guide to Implement Congestion Charging

Introduction to Congestion Charging: A Guide for Practitioners in Developing Cities  (58 page pdf, Dirk Van Amelsfort and Viktoria Swedish, the Asian Development Bank,  2015)

Today we review a comprehensive guide that describes the various steps necessary to develop and then implement a successful congestion charging system, borrowing on examples of established systems in Stockholm, London and Singapore, among others. Although aimed at developing countries, many of the principles and preparations needed are common to the developed world as well – such as, being prepared with responses to eight objections or concerns often made to any such scheme. The underlying objective has to include elements of fairness of application, as well as environmental and economic benefits with as few exemptions to being charged as possible.

acceptance levels

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How Will Norway Deal with Less Fuel Tax Revenue while Reducing Carbon Emissions?

Norway reviewing future of fuel tax (Road Pricing, Apr. 24, 2015)

Today we review a short note on the status of fuel taxes and road tolls in Norway which like Canada is blessed with both considerable hydroelectric power and oil and natural gas resources. Norway has a much greater network of roads with tolls as well as many more electric cars than Canada. With the drop in oil prices and, as a result, reduced revenue from fixed fuel taxes, both countries have to decide how to manage the revenue side from fuel taxes and road pricing, as well as the movement toward lower carbon emissions which has been boosted by various incentives for electric cars (which tends to favour higher income owners) which are not available for heavy vehicles and trucks. The resulting decision may favour higher tolls. This is one option not available to oil producing countries, such as the USA and Canada, where tolling is much less seen.

Norway toll roads

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What are the Provinces Doing to Decarbonize Canada’s Energy Systems?

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canadian Energy Strategy -How Energy East and the oil sands affect climate and energy objectives (15 page pdf, Erin Flanagan, The Pembina Institute, Apr. 14, 2015)

Today we review a report from the Pembina Institute which examined the roles provinces play and could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet national goals, a Canadian Energy Strategy – the main item discussed at a meeting Canadian premiers in Quebec City. While three provinces (Ontario, Quebec and BC) have made modest reductions of 19, 9 and 3% from 2005, Alberta now produces more than Quebec and Ontario combined with a failed cap and trade system that applies to less than 50% of its emissions at a price ($1.80 per tonne) that has little impact on decisions made by industry to reduce carbon fuel use. The plans for the Alberta oil sands and proposals to expand pipeline capacity to the east coast (by 1.1 mbpd) contribute to concerns to keep 2/3’s of the earth’s carbon reserves in the ground if the objective of limiting climate warming to less than 2 degrees C- which means that the oil  sands production bust be limited by 3.3 mbpd. Restoration of a committee to advise the federal government on a Canada Energy Strategy is recommended, similar to the long standing one that was eliminated by the present government (the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy or NTREE)


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Why is Vancouver the Greenest City in the world and How is it Planning to Be Better?

Eleven Reasons to Support Vancouver’s Transportation Tax  (11 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Mar. 19, 2015)

Also discussed here: The case for the mayors’ transit plan — 10 reasons to vote Yes – For one thing, the tax increase of about $200 per household would finance savings of $1,000 (Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, Mar. 31, 2015)

transit ridership


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How Well is Congestion Pricing Accepted?

How Does Congestion Pricing Affect Household Behavior? (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Mat. 4, 2015)

Also discussed here: Effects of Full-Facility Variable Tolling on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the SR-520 Corridor in Seattle

(115 page pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Mar. 2014)
And here: Effects of an HOV-2 to HOT-3 Conversion on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the I-85 Corridor in Atlanta  (187 pg pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Apr.11. 2014)
Today we review before and after reports from two large American cities (Seattle, Atlanta) following introduction of congestion pricing on a bridge (Seattle) and on a HOV lane (Atlanta). Results indicate a decline of trips by 15-18%, a greater use of tolled segments by drivers with high incomes, a greater acceptance (40%) for tolling after introduction compared to before (25%) and a large drop in concern about the impact of tolling on low income users (from 74% to 57%). The key to successful implementation appears to be clear prior communication to the public on the need for congestion pricing.

tolling bridge

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How Are Two Waterlocked Cities (Hong Kong and Ottawa) Coping with Traffic Congestion?

Report on Study of Road Traffic Congestion in Hong Kong (124 page pdf, Transport Advisory Committee, Dec. 2014)

Also discussed here: Hong Kong report proposes electronic road pricing (Road pricing, Feb. 19, 2015)

And here: Segregated Bike Lane Pilot Project (City of Ottawa)

And here: Feasibility Study for a Downtown Ottawa Truck Tunnel (City of Ottawa)

And here: Premier Wynne, MP Galipeau and Mayor Watson tour progress of Confederation Line tunnel (City of Ottawa, Aug. 11, 2014)
And here: How Congested with Traffic are Canadian Cities? (Pollution Free Cities, Jul. 7, 2014)

And here: Is It Time for Congestion Pricing in Canada’s Capital? (Pollution Free Cities, Mar. 22, 2013)

Today we review a comprehensive report by authorities in Hong Kong on measures that could be taken in the short and long term to ease traffic congestion which is having major impacts on economic activity by slowing mobility and as well as to the air quality of this large city where the number of vehicles has increased by 30% over the last decade to almost 700,000 while average vehicle speed has slowed by 11% to 22 kph in the urban area. One of the first steps taken by the working group was a poll of public views on the causes for the congestion – the top three according to a majority of those polled were: too many vehicles on roads, too much road work and illegal parking. The measures recommended included ones to strengthen public transit (by offering more options for pedestrians), ones to discourage traffic interruptions by illegal parking and by tourist buses, trucks or vans operating at rush hour (by giving more enforcement powers to police) and ones to reduce the number of cars on the roads by a electronic road charging system. The Hong Kong authorities also are constructing a tunneled bypass highway as an option to the roads being considered for tolling.

Many of the causes identified for congestion and the options being considered are, to this reviewer, very similar to conditions in Canada’s national capital. Although different in many ways, Hong Kong and Ottawa have similarities, especially in terms of high traffic volumes and pollution hot spots and the fact that both urban cores are surrounded by water and so are not able to expand to accommodate more and more traffic. Vancouver, British Columbia is another city almost entirely surrounded by water which has managed to overcome some of the congestion problems that hamper Ottawa and Hong Kong- not allowing a freeway through its centre and providing mobility options being some of its major accomplishments to lead the list of world cities with the highest environmental quality and quality of life. Singapore is another example of a waterlocked city that attacked its traffic congestion with electronic road tolling and was one of the first in the world to do that successfully (as is being recommended for Hong Kong).

Ottawa, like Hong Kong, has more than 600,000 registered vehicles on the road converging each day into the smallest Central Business District of any large city in the country and major road works (a downtown town tunnel to remove heavily polluting diesel trucks from city streets and a second tunnel for Light Rail Transit) are underway in the core which is guaranteed to disrupt traffic further. Recent feeble efforts to accommodate pedestrians, such as a pedestrian bridge over the canal (one done, another planned) and to offer some protection for cyclists with an 8 block segregated/curbed bike lane through the downtown core need to be expanded, along with improvements in non-polluting public transit for the whole city (now planned for 2030). A close read of the Hong Kong report by Ottawa city transportation planners is warranted.

hong kong

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How Has Germany Improved Its Air Quality?

Clean Air – Made in Germany (50 page pdf, Federal Environment Agency of Germany, Nov. 2014)

Today we review measures undertaken by the national and municipal governments of Germany over the last decade or two to reduce air pollution particularly in its cities and particularly from transportation although initiatives are also in place to deal with wood combustion and ammonia from emissions from agriculture. Specific measures include Low Emission Zones and application of road pricing, restrictions for parking and lower speed limits of 30 kph on major roads. The result is that air quality in German cities today are as high as in rural areas 20 years ago. Future challenges include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet EU targets and reducing NO2 and PM emissions from diesel powered vehicles.

low emission zones berlin

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Dynamic Road Pricing for Vancouver?

Innovative B.C. starts the road-pricing revolution (Andrew Coyne, The Regina Leader-Post Dec. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here: The shocking truth about B.C.’s carbon tax: It works (Ross Beaty, Richard Lipsey and Stewart Elgie, the Globe and Mail, Jul. 09 2014)

Today we review news that Vancouver area Mayors have decided to ask their voters to agree by referendum to two new “taxes” – a sales tax and a comprehensive road-pricing plan – that would be a first for any Canadian city, collect revenue from other than municipal property tax and virtually eliminate traffic congestion. One downside is that implementation would only come in 5 to 8 years – would the next elected civic administrations be up to the challenge? As jurisdictional children, the municipalities would also need to get provincial approval. There is reason to expect a positive response as B.C. is also the first province to have implemented a successful carbon tax on consumer goods 6 years ago, reaffirmed in a recent provincial election, and given citizens the lowest personal income taxes in Canada.

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Is it Time for Carbon Taxes at the State/Provincial/City Sub-national Level?

Economic and Emissions Impacts of a Clean Air Tax or Fee in Oregon (SB306)  (169 page pdf, Legislative Revenue Office, State of Oregon, Dec. 2014)

Also discussed here: Time to talk carbon tax: Conversation kicks off with Medford rally, report from PSU (Wendy Culverwell, Portland Business Journal, Dec. 5, 2014)

And here: Carbon Tax and Shift: How to make it work for Oregon’s Economy.  (36 page pdf, Liu, Jenny H. and Renfro, Jeff, Northwest Economic Research Center Report, Mar. 1, 2013)

And here: Lima Call for Climate Action Puts World on Track to Paris 2015 (Press Release, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 14, 2014)

And here: NAZCA- The Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action (Cooperative And Individual Actions On Climate Change In Partnership With Countries , United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 2014)

On the eve of the UN’s last Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima which aimed to lay out a path to achieve the major reductions in carbon emissions needed by 2050, we review the plans and analyses of a state in the northwest USA. Oregon is considering a levy that would reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2030 at $100/ton tax. Detailed economic impacts include the gain in revenue of over $2B at a carbon tax of only $60/ton. Potential negative impacts such as reduced tourism income or a loss of competitiveness with neighboring states were found to be small or insignificant. This is precisely the kind of effort needed by sub-national entities to be able to make long and short term commitments which would reduce the severity of climate change impacts.

oregon carbon tax

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How Cities Can Get to the Three Zeros (Congestion, Pollution and Accidents)

Implementing Transport Policies and Programmes toward Realizing “Bali Vision Three Zeros – Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution, and Zero Accidents towards Next Generation Transport Systems in Asia  (58 page pdf, Todd Litman, Eighth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (Est) Forum in Asia, United Nations Centre For Regional Development, Nov. 19, 2014)

Today we review a background overview paper prepared by one of the world’s leading advocates for sustainable transportation, Todd Litman, at a United Nations conference aimed at developing best practices in Asia where major shifts to urbanization are taking place. His paper includes many tips and statistics such as better traffic congestion indicators and space requirements for various modes, the advantages of transportation demand management strategies, especially when different ones are combined.

sust transp goals

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Did Congestion Charges Affect Traffic Accidents in London?

Congestion Traffic Accidents and the London Charge (Colin P. Green, John. S. Heywood and Maria Navarro, Economics Working Paper Series 2014/015, Lancaster University Management School, Nov. 3, 2014)

Also discussed here: London’s congestion charge increases speed and saves lives (Colin Green, The Conversation, Nov. 3, 2014)

Today we review research into the link, if any, between London’s Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) introduced in 2003 and the number of traffic accidents in and around the zone. The CCZ has been successful in reducing the volume of vehicles entering the CCZ and increasing their speed as a result of less congestion and increasing the number of public transit buses and bicycles. One might have expected accidents with cyclists and pedestrians to spike. However, research shows that accidents are down by 40% which translates into 45 fewer cases of serious accidents or death. Each increase of the congestion charge by a pound has decreased the number of accidents by 5 per month- and the effect also applies in surrounding areas and during times when there is no charge within the CCZ. As on commentator to the article pointed out, the impact may not be simply economics and that some credit may be due to the improved safety plan for the CCZ which included improved signaling and the simple fact that fewer cars means fewer accidents. The results indicate an unexpected benefit of congestion charging beyond improved air quality, more reliable travel and revenue for improved transit.

conjestion charge less accidents

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If Carbon Pricing Comes, What will Lead Up to it?- a “Future History”

The Sudden Rise of Carbon Taxes, 2010–2030 (37 page pdf, Lawrence MacDonald and Jing Cao, Center for Global Development, Oct. 20, 2014)

Today we review a “future history” that begins by assuming that by 2030 the world will not only have accepted but embraced carbon pricing. The authors predict what changes would be needed to get there with emphasis on what the two biggest CO2 emitting nations, the USA and China, do and why they do it (different reasons). Key aspects are the socio-economic benefits that accrue after carbon taxes are implemented, the penalties that arise (such as legal liabilities for climate impacts) when the main players are slow to respond and the role played by the British Columbian government in Canada in enacting a province-wide carbon tax on consumers which was both successful and popularly supported and served as a model for other jurisdictions.

English: U.S. Energy Flow Chart of 2008 Estima...

English: U.S. Energy Flow Chart of 2008 Estimated U.S. Energy Use in 2008 is ~99.2 quads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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A Plan to Reduce CO2 Emissions from USA by 40% by 2035

Green Growth – A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities (417 page pdf, Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progress, Sep. 2014)

Also discussed here: The Need for Jobs, and the Ecological Limits to Growth (Jeffrey M Doyle, Oct. 17, 2014)

Today we review a realistic short term plan for the USA that would comply with the IFCC objective to reduce world-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels before 2035. It is based on making reductions in consumption of coal, oil, natural gas by 30-60% while assuming that the cost of renewable energy (hydro, wind, geothermal) will continue to decrease to the same levels as for carbon fuels by 2017. A carbon tax that would discourage carbon fuel use can produce public revenues of $ 200 B/year while avoiding economic impacts of $150 B/year if a 3 degree increase in earth temperature cannot be averted.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Why Get Out of Your Car? – Some Good Reasons

Behind the Wheel: Opportunities for Canadians to drive less, reduce pollution and save money (42 page pdf, Cherise Burda, Katie Laufenberg, Alison Bailie and Graham Haines, Pembina Institute, Oct. 2012)

Today we review a report prepared by the well-respected Pembina Institute which detailed many good ways to both reduce emissions from driving and save money. If all of their suggestions were acted on, the emissions from Canada’s transportation sector would be reduced by 16 million tonnes each year which is equivalent to taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

ghg for transportation

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Are HOT Lanes Coming to Ontario’s Highways and How do they Work?

HOT Lanes: A Better Way to Attack Urban Highway Congestion – High-occupancy toll lanes benefit all highway users—not just the affluent (6 page pdf, Robert W. Poole Jr. and C. Kenneth Orski, Regulation, 2000)

Also discussed here: HOT Lanes: A Better Way to Attack Urban Highway Congestion (Robert W. Poole Jr. and C. Kenneth Orsk, CATO Institute)

And here: 2014 Ontario Budget Passes in Legislature – Plan Will Create Jobs, Build Modern Infrastructure and Transportation, Enhance Retirement Security (Press Release, Ontario Ministry of Finance, Jul. 24, 2014)

And here: Budget 2014 Building Modern Infrastructure (9 page pdf, Ontario Ministry of Finance, May 1, 2014)

And here: 495 Express Lanes Usage Update – July 2014

And here: Metrolinx: HOT lanes should be used to break the ice for VMT charging (Grush Hour, Apr. 18, 2013)

Today, we review a paper that was written 14 years ago but is still highly relevant in today’s world of congested urban highways that are getting worse, in the US and Canada at least. The authors review the state of car-pool or transit-only lanes (or high occupancy lanes as the transportation planners dub them), conclude that these lanes tend to be underused and are ineffective and point out the advantages of converting that the HOV lane to a HOT lane which introduces supply and demand pricing to the argument. Given also the great pressure for politicians against introducing any tolls but the equally great pressure to generate revenue and lower taxes, HOT lanes seem inevitable.

One must think that the government in Ontario is thinking along the same lines as they propose HOT lanes for all 400-series highways in the province, included in the May 1, 2014 budget and repeated in a budget bill that received Royal Assent on Jul. 24, 2014 as part of the “economic tools” to pay for over $30B needed for public transit over the next 20 years. A first step to more comprehensive road and congestion pricing perhaps?

how HOT lanes work

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Does “Free” Parking Downtown Make Any Sense?

How to Tax Parking (And How Not To) (Transport Providence, July 8, 2014)

Also discussed here: What’s the Best Way to Tax Parking? (Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog, Jul. 25, 2014)

And here: Parking Taxes – Evaluating Options and Impacts (21 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Aug. 29, 2013)

Today we review a blog post that discusses the equity or fairness in how parking spaces and lots are taxed, noting that many parking lots next to stores offer “free’ parking and these are taxed at a lower rate. A better approach from a fairness and environmentally wise point of view is to tax all spaces at the same rate. Parking rates are key to lowering congestion as well as discouraging casual use of roads by cars in the downtown- and as we see in San Francisco (SfPark), applying varying parking rates according to demand goes even farther.

providence parking

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How does demand pricing of carbon work in British Columbia?

HACKING THE CLIMATE – B.C. put a price on carbon. What happened next will surprise you (Keleigh Annau, Sustainable Prosperity, Jun. 30, 2014)

Also discussed here: How the Carbon Tax Works (B.C. Ministry of Finance)

Today we review discussions about why and how a carbon tax was implemented in Canada’s most western province which has resulted in its greenhouse gas emissions being 20% lower than the rest of the country – and to almost everyone’s surprise, a public that demands that it continues. A key part of the approach is the return of revenue generated either by direct payments to those on low or zero income or by tax deductions to the middle class- a return of $500 million more each year than what was taxed for the province. Those who have adapted to the higher prices benefit the most in terms of money returned.

By 2020, it is estimated that the emissions avoided are equivalent to those from nearly 800,000 cars each year. By comparison the reductions credited to technological approaches such as electric light rail transit are puny- example in the city of Ottawa that a 43 km LRT system proposed in 2008 would have taken only 2, 400 cars off the road each year (and cost taxpayers nearly a billion dollars). Such a reduction in CO2 also has significant benefits in terms of lower health costs from the reduction of other toxic pollutants emitted by cars.

gas pump

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How Well Does San Francisco’s Smart Parking System Perform?

Does San Francisco’s Smart Parking System Reduce Cruising for a Space? (Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic City Lab, Jun. 25,2014)

Also discussed here: SFpark Project Evaluation Presentation (24 page pdf, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Jun. 19, 2014)

And here: SFpark Evaluation Shows Parking Easier, Cheaper in Pilot Areas (SFMTA Press Release, Jun. 19, 2014)

Today we review an evaluation of the project in San Francisco which introduced a modern parking pricing system in 2011 that raises (or lowers) parking charges according to demand and monitors in real-time when spaces are vacant or occupied. Results indicate that the project was successful in maximizing occupancy of parking spots and reducing the amount of needless circling by drivers looking for an empty spot(by 30%) – and as a result reduced the amount of fuel consumed and CO2 emitted (by 30%) – all while reducing the average hourly parking charge applied (from $2.69 to $2.58) and the number of citations issued (by 23%). One negative result was that over time the availability of parking spots at peak demand did not result as expected from the increased rates charged which leaves the management of rates and availability for further study. Coming next is application of smart metering to off-street parking lots and buildings.
SF parking meter

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Calgary’s Response to Downtown Congestion: Price Parking by Demand

Calgary’s demand-responsive on-street parking pricing (Paul Barter, Reinventing parking, Jun. 13, 2014)
Also discussed here: MBA: The Right Price for Parking  (Elizabeth Press, including a 3 minute video,Street Films, Apr. 19, 2011)

And here: Demand-responsive parking prices: a key element of Adaptive Parking (Paul Barter, Reinventing Parking, Jan. 14, 2012)
And here: Parking in Calgary

Today we highlight a system that varies the charges for parking by demand (or parking pricing) , just introduced in downtown Calgary, Alberta. The approach uses the principles espoused by Prof Shoup and implemented in San Francisco in 2011 where the price for parking varies block by block according to the demand for parking as measured by sensors in the parking space pavement. In Calgary, prices for parking are applied not by block but by defined parking areas where prices increase by 25 cents/hr when the spaces are occupied more than 80% of the time and lowered when the occupancy rate is less than 50%. Experience from other cities indicates that revenue from such an approach can double or triple that from fixed rate parking meters, in addition to reduced congestion and improved air quality in the downtown core from fewer vehicles driving needlessly to find a vacant parking spot.

Calgary am price adjustment map

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What Incentives can be used to Shift Drivers away from Traffic Peaks?

Can Spatial Analytics Combined with Behavioral Economics Ease Congestion? (Tod Newcombe, Solutions for Government Technology Jun. 3, 2014)
Also discussed here:  Beyond Congestion Pricing: Reducing Traffic Problems by Changing People’s Commuting Habits (Tod Newcombe, Governing, Jun. 4, 2014)
And here: Urban Engines

Today we review an article that suggests that the solution toreduce traffic congestion is to offer drivers incentives to not drive at peak volume times, based on a statistical analysis of driving behavior and timing of rush hours. Smart cards can be used not only for incentives but also as a source of information about hot spots frequency and location.



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How Does Milan, Italy Reduce Traffic Congestion and Pollution- and Win an Award for it?

City of Milan – Winner of the 2014 Transport Achievement Award (International Transport Forum, May 2014)
Also discussed here: City of Milan wins prestigious transport award (talya.enriquez, Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Trasnport (SloCaT), 20 May 2014)
Today we review an award to the City of Milan for its successful implementation of a road pricing system in 2012 in its core urban area which resulted in 28% less traffic congestion, significantly less vehicle emissions (CO2 -35%, NOx -18%, PM10 -18%) as well as 10 M Euros/yr for improving alternative transportation modes, such as public transit and bike sharing. A key aspect for this project was the degree of public consultation which produced almost 80% positive support from the public for congestion charging at the onset, a much higher level than what was seen in other cities with congestion pricing schemes such as London, Stockholm and New York City.


Ecopass program aims at reducing traffic conge...

Ecopass program aims at reducing traffic congestion and pollution in the city centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Are Tolls a Better Way to Pay for Road Infrastructure than Taxes?

The Free Ride Is Over: Why Cities, and Citizens, Must Start Paying for Much-Needed Infrastructure (34 page pdf, Philip Bazel and Jack Mintz, Research Paper, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, May 20, 2014)
Also discussed here: Cities should embrace user fees to fund repairs to aging infrastructure: Report (Manisha Krishnan, Calgary Herald, May 20, 2014)

Today we review a report that analyses why user fees for municipalities are not applied to roads but are happily applied to other forms of public infrastructure such as public transit, waste and water drainage. The costs of road infrastructure tends to come from transfers from the federal or provincial levels (which as a revenue stream has been rising) or from property taxes with very little outside of gas taxes from the users. The result is that local politicians are shielded from accountability for the condition of roads and, as it affects property taxes which are higher in the urban core, people tend to accept commuting longer distances to buy cheaper properties in the suburbs – which only celebrates urban sprawl and congested highways leading into the cities. It also disadvantages those affected by the added congestion whether it is added congestion from the suburbs or the environmental and health costs borne by those living downtown. Other countries regularly charge road users for roads and bridge infrastructure.

As this report concludes: “To the detriment of their infrastructure, cities across Canada have made insufficient use of user pricing. It is time for a change.”

road user fees

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How does the Public View the Cost of Air Pollution and Noise?

Multi-country willingness to pay study on road-traffic environmental health effects: are people willing and able to provide a number? (24 page pdf, Tifanny Istamto, Danny Houthuijs and Erik Lebret, Environmental Health,May 9.2014)
Today we review research aimed at finding ouit how to ask the publics in four European countries what cost the see in the impacts of air pollution and noise, recognizing that these two environmental conditions impact the public in different ways and so must be assessed differently. One of the challenges in designing questionnaires is to identify and if possible reduce the number of don’t know (DK) and protest vote (PV) answers through the use of factual choices and scenarios in a process meant to capture what the public is willing to pay (WTP) to reduce the impacts- and then assess if the proportion of DK’s varies by country or socio-economic status etc. About 1/3 of the PVs thought that the polluter or the government should pay for reducing air pollution or noise.

questions about pollution and noise

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How Can City Politicians Gain Public Support for Congestion Charging?

How local governments can take congestion pricing from concept to reality(Heshuang Zeng, The CityFix(EMBARQ), Apr. 22, 2014)

Today we review an article that looks at successes achieved in implementing congestion charging and what steps were taken to ensure that. It seems to have a lot to do with planning in advance and provide transparency to the public in how revenue from the fees collected would be distributed in a fair manner and justifying the initial implementation costs using cost benefit analyses, as well as having the all out support of the Mayor from the beginning(which takes some courage). Cities such as Stockholm, London, Bogota, New York City (one day) and Beijing demonstrate many of these elements of success.



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The Road to Free Public Transit and Fewer Cars

Editorial: No FPT without SCR (Systematic Car Reductions) (Eric Britton, World Streets, Mar. 20, 2014)

Today we review a short editorial by Eric Britton’s blog from Paris. He reminds us that the transition from a car addicted sprawled city to one with free public transit and much fewer cars has to be approached in a strategic way through enforcement of regulations and plans that allow or encourage speeding and by planning an urban form that encourages cycling and walking and public transit. At least 5 of the 13 specific measures suggested are needed before proceeding to free public transit along with a clear and public declaration of these steps. Cities such as Paris with its Velib bike sharing program, and Stockholm with its sophisticated congestion charging system, demonstrate how change is possible. Bottom line is for voters to support candidates for City Council who support these measures.

English: Paris, France : station Velib (bike h...

English: Paris, France : station Velib (bike hire service) Place de la Bastille Français : Station Vélib (Système de prêt de vélo) Place de la Bastille, Paris France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Congestion Charging – It’s about Efficiency not Revenue!

The Lexus Lane (Charles Marohn, Strong Towns, Mar. 31, 2014)
Today we review an article that takes a hard look at relieving highway congestion by adding a tolled lane when traffic flow approaches or exceeds capacity. When it comes to the critical question of how best to use the revenue, many assume it is meant for road costs. The author counters that by emphasizing the more important aspect is improving the efficiency of road use, whether it is spreading the traffic volume out over the day from peak hours or changing the actual urban design using economic prompters to reduce commuting distances and moving people closer to their jobs. He also reminds us that rural roads could never pay for themselves from tolls but are there for more basic economic reasons such as mining or lumber.

A good read!

tolls and hot lanes

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Will New York City Finally get Congestion Charging?

The Plan That Could Finally Free New York City From Traffic Congestion (Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities, Mar. 20, 2014)

Also discussed here: East River tolls, Midtown traffic charges proposed for $1.5 billion boost to roads, transit system – Transportation advocates are ramping up efforts to sell the public on a revised version of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s defeated traffic plan. The ‘fair tolling’ proposal would charge drivers more in transit-rich areas like Midtown, while tolls at some bridges would be reduced. (NY Daily News, Pete Donohue, New York Daily News, Mar. 21, 2014)
Today we read about a second attempt to put congestion pricing into effect in downtown New York City, after the first one proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2008 was rejected. Although supported by the city, the plan was rejected by the state government and this set back plans in several other cities in the US and Canada to follow suit. What makes Manhattan well-suited for a tolling is that it is surrounded by bridges and tunnels, a characteristic common to the downtowns of other major cities that use congestion charging such as Stockholm, Sweden and London, England. While many want to reduce congestion and speed up commuting times, a key argument against putting a price on congestion is the lack of trust concerning the revenue it generates. The new plan for NYC takes this into account with firm plans to use most of the projected $1.5 B to go to public transit.

congestio charging london

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Why Do We Subsidize Parking for Public Transit Users?

The Dirty Truth Behind Park & Rides (Matt Steele, StreetsMM, Mar. 18, 2014)

Today we review some suggestions from Minneapolis where the proposal to expand their park and ride facilities is assessed in terms of what it costs to give the parking away free (when it costs $10 per user) compared to other more cost effective options, such as doing away with higher express fares at peak use times or producing more revenue from the lot areas than giving away parking. Bottom line is that the number of extra riders and revenue produced by free parking is less than improvements to the transit system itself which would make the latter more efficient and double the net revenue. A good question whether this arguments holds for cities such as Ottawa that are sprawled out over more than 2,800 km2 where some suburban and rural areas are poorly or expensively served by public transit. But it is always useful to consider impacts on ridership and the costs of subsidies in running very expensive public transit systems.


parka nd ride

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Solving Congestion Problems in China’s Biggest Cities

A big reason Beijing is polluted: The average car goes 7.5 miles per hour( Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, Jan. 3, 2014)

Also discussed here: China’s Urban Nightmare: Gridlock(The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2014)

Also here: Spatial and Social Characteristics of Urban Transportation in Beijing(9 page pdf, Jiawen Yang, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board,2010)

Today we review a report that compares the degree of traffic congestion in Beijing and Wuhan with large western cities that have similar trends on the growth of car ownership (and urban road building) with GDP and with the degree to which congestion has strangled traffic flows to a point where drivers in Beijing average only 12 kph. Interesting that Wuhan implemented a congestion pricing system in 2011 while more progressive cities such as New York City have failed to proceed with it as one of the most effective ways of reducing urban congestion.

Also interesting that Beijing’s twin city in Canada shares an almost identical ratio of km road lanes to urban area (of about 3-4 to 1), an indicator of poor urban transportation design (Ottawa also lacks modern Light Rail Transit, depending only on buses and planning to get a basic LRT system in the next 10-15 years).

 road density

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Smarter Ways of Dealing with Traffic Congestion

Smarter Congestion Relief In Asian Cities – Win-Win Solutions to Urban Transport Problems(18 page pdf, Todd Litman, Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific, Dec. 30, 2013)

Also discussed here: Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Evaluation Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Strategies(57 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute,  Dec. 29, 2013

Today we review a paper that suggests a number of ways that cities- particularly large cities- can reduce or eliminate much of the congestion that hinders the urban economy and pollutes the air. Only after implementing some or all of the “smart” options such as congestion pricing, more efficient use of the roadways, dynamic parking rates etc should road expansion be considered, even though in many cities this is the one and only approach attempted with spectacular failure in the long term. An important point is made about the much more effective results from varying the price for road use or parking  according to demand rather than by a flat toll or fee which does raise revenue but has less effect on congestion.

optimum car modal share

Rural                     Small City        Large City

English: Congestion Pricing Equilibrium

English: Congestion Pricing Equilibrium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How to go Carbon Neutral in a Simple Effective way

The Microsoft carbon fee: theory & practice  (40 page pdf, Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Microsoft Corporation, Dec. 13 2013)

Also discussed here: A Carbon Fee For Your Business? Microsoft Can Help(Sustainable Business, Dec. 13, 2013)

And here:  The Carbon Neutral Company

Today we review a plan and guide that Microsoft developed to make itself carbon neutral by the use of a carbon free and a  process to make an inventory and monitor carbon use, collect a carbon fee and then invest it in ways that would accelerate the carbon neutral end state.

Although many forward looking companies and a few governments have put carbon pricing into their future plans, Microsoft is the first to actually implement such a plan. While carbon taxes and cap and trade approaches have been tried and generally failed, what makes the Microsoft plan appealing is its simplicity- the fee is flexible based on consumption of carbon use multiplied by a carbon price that is set externally. Another key feature is the use of targets which not only provides managers with a goal for carbon use but also an investment outlook with key revenue targets which can be used to purchase things that would accelerate the whole process. The bottom line is that Microsoft openly declares that they are doing this because it is good for the bottom line, promotes efficiency and transforms the company to a sustainable one – what is holding so many municipal and national governments back from emulating this?

carbon fee

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Dubai’s Efficient Approach to Road Pricing

Salik (road toll)(Wikipedia)

Also discussed here: Dubai’s Salik experiment makes a clear case for toll roads(Alice Haine, The National,  Jun. 28, 2012)

And here: Salik Official Website(Roads and Transport Authority, Government of Dubai)

And here: Salik Road Toll Dubai(Dubai FAQs Forum)

Today we review Dubai’s road toll system, called “Salik” meaning open or clear, the first road tolling system in the Middle East. Since opening in 2007, Salik has been expanded by adding more toll gates to congested roads, especially enroute to the airport. The key feature is the use of a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) affixed to the windshield which triggers a deduction of about one dollar US (or 4 AED) from a prepaid charge card each time the vehicle passes a toll gate, equipped to detect the RFIDs automatically. The results include shortening the travel time by 50% and shifting traffic to less used roads, as well as creating a source of revenue(600 AED or $200 M US approx. per year) to maintain the roads, paid for by users of the roads.



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How Can Cities Improve Their Use of Public Space for Parking Cars?

Parking Reform Made Easy(6 Page pdf, Richard Willson, ACCESS #43, University of California Institute of Transportation Studies, Fall 2013)
The amount of paved urban space dedicated to parking and driving private vehicles approaches 50% in many cities, crowding out elements of healthy cities such as green space, car-free pedestrian areas and cycling paths and contributing directly or indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions 80% of which come from cities.
Today we review a proposal to approach the way that cities regulate parking that moves away from traditional systems that encourage car travel, lower density urban cores and higher traffic congestion through wasteful land use to one that raises the priority for buses, cycling and pedestrian use.
The solution is to approach the challenge with a focus on making better use of parking spaces, adjusting that use incrementally by incorporating local needs and policy goals into Transportation Master Plans and Official Plans (planning mechanisms used by Canadian municipalities) – specifically by moving away from mandated minimum 300 sq. ft. parking spaces to a system that does not supply parking spaces until they are justified economically.

Traffic to/from the parking spaces on this sid...

Traffic to/from the parking spaces on this side is isolated from the rest of the road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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