Concern over increased congestion, reduced efficiency and reduced safety are key motivators to undertake an in-depth investigation into the effects of road pricing and toll strategies on road mobility and other transportation factors. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />
The transport research community, authorities and policy makers need to get a better understanding of road mobility for passengers (user reactions) and freight, strategic pricing issues and assessment methodologies.
The aim is to assess the road pricing and tolling mechanisms, including the usage of tolls as a financial leverage tool. This will include an assessment of road demand characteristics and potential for substitution, type of road network and traffic context as well as strategies for demand and traffic management. Models for determining short-term transport strategies will be developed, and issues and policy options regarding road pricing will be identified.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />
The EUROTOLL project uses an innovative approach, combining conceptual and practical research through three main stages:
- definition of the concepts regarding tolling strategies, user reactions;
- performance of the case studies and operation of the concepts;
- learning from the case studies and consolidating the conceptual research.
The project will involve:
- Design of traffic demand management strategies taking into account, the context and objectives (reduce congestion, efficiency, etc.).
- Research on essential road users concept (from the socio-economic and network efficiency viewpoints).
- Identification of user reactions regarding tolling/pricing strategies.
- Research on concepts and principles for the internalisation of external costs.
- Identification of level of user information (optimisation of tolling strategies with user information).
- Identification of urban/inter-urban conflicts on the typology of conflicts and proposing of general strategies (pricing or traffic rights) to alleviate congestion.
- Identification of the evaluation process and guidelines.
The main findings relating to road user behaviour were:
- if tariffs vary throughout the day according to demand, car drivers will re-schedule departure times, which leads to less traffic congestion;
- if tariff systems reward re-routing, a significant number of car drivers will do so, which again reduces congestion;
- road pricing has not been observed to lead to significant modal shift;
- it takes time for users to change their behaviour in response to price signals - car drivers are more sensitive than occasional drivers and truck drivers.
In addition, EUROTOLL has demonstrated that strategies to integrate pricing measures and transport information applications, are able to reinforce the positive effects of both.
For future pricing strategies, the following recommendations should be considered:
- the reason why a pricing measure is introduced has to be clearly explained to users and the general public;
- during a trip, more frequent road users of an area or route need less information to react to changed conditions than occasional users;
- users who make the same trip frequently will change their behaviour more quickly;
- information strategies have to be designed as a combination of pre- and on-trip information;
- travellers have to be given sufficient information about the pricing scheme and alternative travel possibilities if behaviour is to change;
- alternatives (e.g. routes) and the advantages of alternatives have to be demonstrated and promoted.
EUROTOLL concluded that the principles recommended by the EC’s White Paper on transport pricing could be implemented through a combination of practical pricing methods. The project has contributed to the work of the EC’s Joint Scientific Committee on transport pricing.