Over the last ten years, improved vehicle technologies and fuel quality have been seen as primary contributors to better air quality in European cities. The Auto Oil programme involving both government and industry has been central to the process of designing appropriate regulatory policies. However, in its second phase this programme has drawn attention to the potential contribution of non-technical measures (such as traffic management, pricing measures and promotion of public transport). These offer a means of supplementing the gains from vehicle technology, by acting on the total demand for mobility and modal split. They can also influence the adoption of technical measures, e.g. through economic incentives such as scrappage schemes. It is possible that they offer more cost-effective reductions in emissions than do some of the increasingly expensive technological innovations.
The purpose of CANTIQUE was to assess the effectiveness of non-technical measures in reducing traffic emissions, based on a review of existing European experiences.
CANTIQUE found that the most cost-effective measures to reduce CO2, CO and NOx emissions were typically parking charges, parking management regulations, road pricing and low emission zones. A positive cost-benefit balance was identified for these measures when demonstrated in certain cities - although in other cities similar measures (particularly road pricing) have shown a benefit/cost ratio of less than one. Infrastructure-based measures such as bus lanes, freight distribution centres and telematics systems seem less cost-effective in meeting environmental objectives, on the evidence available to date.
Regulatory measures have given emissions reductions up to 6%, with parking management and traffic control working best in highly congested cities, while speed limits work well in less congested cities. Pricing measures may reduce emissions by up to 14%, particularly through road pricing and parking charges in cities with a high proportion of car use. Improvements in public transport have given savings up to 6%, but with less effect in highly congested cities.
Extrapolation of city experiences to the European level by modelling indicated a potential for 16% abatement of the CO2 emissions from transport in European cities (on average, but varying by country). This equates to a 6% contribution to the achievement of Kyoto targets.
CANTIQUE also reviewed the potential for transferring these experiences to Central and Eastern Europe. A number of barriers were identified, particularly in the policy and institutional frameworks (such as the need for better enforcement of regulations), and in the development of financing mechanisms to feed revenues into investments in infrastructure and public transport.
CANTIQUE concluded that the following non-technical measures should be considered as prime candidates when developing local transport strategies, according to the characteristics of the city in question:
- in highly congested cities, pricing policies (road pricing, parking pricing) complemented by regulatory policies such as parking controls;
- in moderately congested cities with high car usage, measures to promote public transport;
- in less congested cities, pricing and taxation (although with only limited effectiveness).
However, the expected costs and benefits have to be estimated for each city situation, and pilot testing may be the most practical first step, both to confirm expectations and to develop public acceptance.