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Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Transportation Research Procedia





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This paper reports on a project that considers whether the goals of (de)congestion pricing could be achieved in whole or in part by incentivizing mode-shift rather than using charging to force it: buying rather than selling decongestion. The project developed a method for estimating the net present value of the costs and benefits of a permanent ITS-enabled program of paying people to travel as passengers rather than as drivers-to reduce existing congestion in a target corridor to a target maximum level of delay-taking into account the mix of the traffic and the potential impact of latent demand and induced trips. This is relevant for making better use of existing infrastructure (a "build nothing" alternative to expansion, but not a "do nothing" one), for decarbonizing transport, and in the run up to automated vehicles where the possibility exists that new infrastructure investments in the 1-20-year timeframe will become stranded assets under some future scenarios. The project incorporated: a thorough review of the literature; focus groups; and a survey in a case study corridor in California to test the theory, develop the method, and determine the likely costs and benefits. The main insights include 1) the significance of an 'intra-peak demand shift' that would occur if congestion was removed; 2) the need for four major components in a congestion-clearing payments program: a) incentives to switch from driving to being a passenger, b) incentives to travel at less preferred times, c) park and ride/pool facilities near the bottleneck to ease the passenger switch, and d) some limitation on single-occupant vehicle travel in the peak-of-the-peak in order to reserve space for vehicles carrying passengers; and 3) the possible need for different land-use regulations in a successful "payments to passengers" environment where the amount of traffic might no longer be an obvious constraint for expanding the local economy. The case study benefit cost analysis delivers a benefit cost ratio of 4.5 to 1.


Reverse tolls, congestion pricing, decongestion pricing, traffic congestion, multimodal transportation, sustainable transportation, carpooling, ridesharing, mobility management, transportation demand management, incentives, mode shift, travel behaviour, user perspective, CO2 emissions reduction, park-and-ride, park-and-pool


This is the Version of Record and can also be read online here.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Urban and Regional Planning