The overriding transport concern in many European cities is the increasing level of private car traffic and the negative impacts that this has on the urban environment: congestion, accidents, poor air quality, health impacts, etc. In order to reverse this trend and promote more sustainable mobility in cities, policies are being driven forward on two basic fronts:
- management of the demand for private car use, through various traffic management strategies
- and the development of alternative mobility services - intermodal public transport, car sharing, information system, etc.
The PROGRESS project sets out to demonstrate these potential benefits and address the concerns.
The overall objective of PROGRESS is 'to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness and acceptance of integrated urban transport pricing schemes to achieve transport goals and raise revenue.'
The objective was approached by focusing on 6 project goals:
- To provide effective co-ordination between the demonstration sites, and with the thematic network;
- To develop and demonstrate integrated urban transport pricing schemes, based on the concept of marginal-cost pricing, in real urban situations;
- To develop and assess the political, economic and social framework required for the implementation of urban transport pricing;
- To evaluate the impact and effectiveness of these demonstrations;
- To support the sister project CUPID by providing policy results at the local level for wider dissemination;
- To develop material for dissemination of the demonstration and evaluation results at the local and national level, and at the European level.
The project focused on real-life and trial demonstrations of urban pricing schemes to achieve transport and social goals. Within the eight cities, seven demonstrated various methods of road user charging through cordons, areas, zones, and distance and time gased scheme operation.
The technology employed ranged from license recognition based systems to transponder tags and satellite based systems.
The main results can be grouped under four headings, as follows:
- Legal, organisational and financing issues;
- Consultation, marketing, and press coverage issues;
- Charging technologies;
- Charging scheme impacts.
1 - A national legal framework for urban road pricing is in place in Norway (Road Traffic Act), Italy (Law 122/89) and the UK (Transport Act 2000,) but it does not yet exist in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Details within the existing legislation vary among countries and, similarly, it will be necessary to tailor future legislation in other countries to their current legislative frameworks and general political contexts.
Referring the organisational framework, the implementation of a major scheme such as road pricing requires a number of elements to be brought together. However, the roles and management structures of these elements require further definition and depend on the procurement route decided by the project management board (and ratified politically), management systems to be adopted and the role of central government support (both financial and technical).
However, it is currently considered that there are three options for the system management, as follows: fully managed in-house, joint venture with the private sector, management through a concession.
2 - A reasonable level of public acceptance is critical to the success of road pricing for a number of reasons. These include:
- Acceptance and understanding of a scheme will promote desirable changes in travel behaviour and help the scheme meet its demand management objectives.
- A reasonable level of acceptance will minimise the risk of undesirable responses such as extensive violation of a scheme.
Moreover, marketing and awareness raising are key activities in implementing and operating roadpricing schemes. The main communications channels used in this context were press releases and other media contacts, websites, and posters and leaflets of various descriptions. The approaches to using them and the ways they were deployed varied significantly from city to city.
3 - The project demonstrations produced valuable information on technological performances, through testing of a range of technologies under different charging scenarios. The most basic concept for urban road pricing is a cordon where vehicles are charged per trip
The possible policy implications as well as the recommendation for future actions are summarised as follows:
- Weak support for road pricing as an isolated measure: recommendation is to present road pricing as part of a strategy, including other measures, to solve congestion. It is then also crucial in the consultations to communicate clearly.
- It is hard to find support for full-scale schemes: to implement full-scale road pricing schemes has been difficult, from a political point of view, Instead of full-scale schemes, demonstration projects have therefore been carried out in some cities. A lesson learned is that this approach also provides experiences enabling cities to proceed with consultations leading to the development of a more appropriate full-scale road pricing scheme. A recommendation is therefore to consider running demonstration projects as a first step on the way towards the implementation of a full-scale road pricing scheme.
- Difficult to communicate scheme objectives: opposition to the road pricing schemes seems to be reduced after implementation, but road pricing is still very controversial. A lesson learned from the consultations carried out is the difficulty to communicate the scheme objectives and the discussion focuses often on the political process rather than whether the scheme will be able to meet its objectives. A recommendation is to put a lot of emphasis on providing information on the scheme objectives and its traffic effects: at this purpose it is also useful to present schemes as part of a strategy.
- Businesses in city centres are often against road pricing: commercial interests often seem to be against road pricing schemes, certainly before the scheme has been implemented. A recommendation is to communicate closely with businesses and stakeholders so that their fears and concerns can be mitigated before the implementation of any measures; a further proposal is to announce close monitoring of effects and the possibility for redesigning the charging system after a defined period of operation.
- Extensive communication is needed: it is important to give information to users after implementation to inform them about the scheme benefits A recommendation is therefore to make a consultation plan early in the implementation process and to budget large resources for the information activities.
- Distance-based systems give higher flexibility for transportation policy: distance-based systems are flexible an