Getting cars and trucks out of busy downtowns is crucial to encouraging public transit, biking and walking. When they’ve got to drive, a congestion fee supports sharing the car. A number of cities worldwide are instituting or working on plans for this smart idea.

Infographic

There’s no way to get it onto this page, but here’s a graphic that takes a close look at several congestion pricing case studies and the positive and negative impacts they have produced. View the graphic
By Liam Fisher

 

Singapore 

The City That Led The Way
Ten years ago, Singapore adopted Electronic Road Pricing based on a pay-as-you-use principle. Drivers insert a card into a reader on the dashboard that receives short-wave radio signals from units at congested spots. They are charged when they use priced roads during peak hours. ERP rates vary depending on traffic conditions. Results indicate that drivers change their mode of transport, travel route or time of travel. This article gives an overview.

Stockholm

They Voted for a Congestion Charge
The Stockholm congestion charge was first introduced as a trial in 2006, then in a referendum the residents voted to keep it. This system uses an on-board electronic tag that is loaned to drivers. Roadside cameras back up the system and cover tagless cars by recording license plate images. Hybrid and electric vehicles go free.  Read article

Milan

An Automotive City Elects Clean Air 
Third among large European cities in its atmospheric concentrations of particulate matter, Milan has also one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world. It had one advantage: in 2011 almost 80 per cent of voters said they approved more restrictions on driving to achieve a better quality of life in the city. Their program is still popular and has significantly reduced climate-damaging emissions. Read article
By Caterina Di Bartolo, Eltis, 08 Apr 2015

The Road to Milan’s Solution
This informative graphic review might make you seasick, but it covers the basics and says the program has decreased CO2 emissions by 35%.
By Isabella Valencia & Elisa Arango

New York

Driving a Car in Manhattan Could Cost $11.52 Under Congestion Plan
This is just a proposal, so far, but similar traffic charges are already used in cities like Singapore, Stockholm, London and Milan. New York has rejected or ignored versions of them dating to at least the 1970s. The newest plan embraces the twin goals of easing Manhattan’s choking traffic while raising badly needed revenue for the city’s failing subways and buses.
Trucks would pay $25.34, and taxis and for-hire vehicles could see surcharges of $2 to $5 per ride. The pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street. In a key change from past efforts, drivers would not have to pay if they entered Manhattan by all but two of the city-owned East River bridges, which are now free to cross, as long as they bypassed the congestion zone. Read article
By Jim Dwyer & Winnie Hu, New York Times, Jan 18, 2018

For Congestion Pricing Plan, New Support and Steadfast Critics
Supporters of congestion pricing include even Uber, the ride-hailing company whose ubiquitous black cars have filled city streets. It plans a major campaign to promote congestion pricing, beginning on Wednesday with a “six-figure” run of television ads followed by other outreach such as radio ads, mailings and phone calls.
Critics of the plan included three Queens officials — an Assemblyman, City Councilman and the Queens borough president — who appeared at a news conference to pre-emptively oppose tolls on the East River bridges. Read article
By Winnie Hu, New York Times, Dec. 29, 2017

Congestion Pricing in NYC Would Not Burden Working Poor – Analysis
A recent report by the Community Service Society, challenged the idea that a congestion fee would disproportionately affect the poor. The report found that just 118,000 commuters, or about 4 percent of working residents from the boroughs outside Manhattan, could be subject to a congestion fee. Of those, only 5,000 (less than 0.1% of outside residents) would be living in poverty. Far more workers, including the poor, rely on public transit.
Summary and downloadable PDF report

San Francisco

A Plan Is Required
The SF Transportation Authority is required by state law to develop and adopt a Congestion Management Program to monitor transportation and adopt plans for mitigating traffic congestion in the city. Read about the program to develop a plan.

SF Study Finds Peak Fee The Most Effective Strategy
SF Transportation Authority’s study in 2016 found that parking pricing strategies would reduce drive-alone trips modestly but concluded that cordon-pricing (a peak fee for crossing into a cordoned area) would be more effective in reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and shifting drivers to other modes. This is largely because a parking based approach would not affect pass-through trips. A coordinated effort between congestion management and parking pricing and supply strategies will help the City meet its livability goals by reducing drive-alone trips and by making more efficient use of street resources. San Francisco Parking Supply and Utilization Study Summary Report

SF Congestion Data Widget
SFCTA’s online tool shows performance metrics for cars and buses on major San Francisco streets and highways. These are monitored every two years, in accordance with state law for San Francisco’s Congestion Management Program. Try it.