Road Pricing is an instrument of the market economy which can influence traffic demand as well as contribute to generating transport revenues. The research project for making an analysis of the possible implementation scenarios for Switzerland was needed.
The project prepares the ground for further in-depth studies on national and regional level. It is focussed on road user charges; the other instruments of mobility pricing (e.g. parking fees and public transport fares) are outside the scope of the project.
In the framework of the project at first the experiences from foreign countries are examined and the individual model parameters are discussed systematically. Then the possible application schemes in Switzerland are sketched and broadly evaluated using four illustrative case studies.
The four case studies consider quite different aspects and time horizons for road user charging. Therefore, a direct comparison is difficult. The following aspects seem to be interesting:
Road user charging comprises the whole spectrum from simple tolling of a road section up to the total remodelling of a national road financing system. Basically the whole spectrum is thinkable for Switzerland.
The characteristics of road user charging on a strategic level depends on the problem and issues, the transport, political and financial policy, the repartition of roles and responsibilities between Cantons and the Confederation.
The characteristics of the scheme depend on the technology options. Contrary to other countries manual tolling is considered not opportune and, therefore, EFC technology is to be employed from the very start. With the one exception of Value Pricing, in all cases there must be suitable and non-discriminatory solutions for occasional users. This will be associated with considerable costs. The simpler the scheme the more technology is available at present at reasonable costs (in particular DSRC and ANPR technology). The more schemes are complex and differentiated, the more implementation is only recommended when a European Electronic Tolling Service is available and when there is a requirement of compulsory OBU in all cars travelling in Europe.
The traffic effects are heavily dependent on three parameters: the tariff level, the alternative travel options of the users (time, route, travel modes) and of the accompanying measures (e.g. offsetting other taxes, measures against traffic diversion and charge avoidance). The examples of Value Pricing Augst-Basel and Area Charging Zurich show that significant effects can be caused with substantial tariffs, in particular during peak times. The Value Pricing example shows also that contra productive effects on the traffic throughput may be triggered.
The financial impacts depend on the charge tariffs and on the traffic impacts. The cases of Zurich and the national schemes show that significant revenues can be generated which may be used to offset existing taxes. In contrast, congestion charging schemes only yield little income. For these schemes generating revenues is secondary. Still, with schemes entirely oriented to traffic management net revenues can be generated.
The use of the revenues is a central element of any scheme and important for the accepance of the scheme. Several alternatives are available