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Home > Transportation > Planning Activities > Congestion Pricing Study

What Do People Think About Congestion Pricing?

Too much congestion. Not enough funding. These two problems increasingly have come to define transportation policy woes in our nation’s metropolitan areas, and the Washington, D.C., region is no exception. Many experts agree that congestion pricing -- charging tolls or fees that are higher when and where congestion is worse -- could at least partially solve both of these challenges. But decision-makers and opinion leaders in metropolitan Washington often assume that citizens will oppose congestion pricing proposals, particularly those projects that would put tolls or fees on roads that are currently free of charge. Such perceived public opposition is frequently cited as an obstacle to implementation.

The TPB recently completed a study titled "What Do People Think About Congestion Pricing? A Study of the Public Acceptability of Congestion Pricing Through a Deliberative Dialogue with Residents of Metropolitan Washington." The study explored the baseline opinions of regular citizens toward congestion pricing and whether more information and education about pricing could influence their attitudes. The study also sought to unravel key factors -- issues like fairness, effectiveness, or privacy -- that make a pivotal difference in determining opinions. The study’s ultimate purpose was to help decisionmakers better understand how they might attract public support for congestion pricing, if they were to decide to pursue such a policy solution.

The TPB carried out the research for this study in partnership with the Brookings Institution. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided grant funding for the research through its Value Pricing Pilot Program. The TPB also engaged the non-profit organization AmericaSpeaks to guide the design and implementation of the five deliberative forums that were the primary research vehicle for this study. The final report (released in September 2013), a draft report (released in January 2013), key documents, and appendices from the study are listed below.

FINAL REPORT (September 2013):

  • "What Do People Think About Congestion Pricing? A Study of the Public Acceptability of Congestion Pricing Through a Deliberative Dialogue with Residents of Metropolitan Washington." Click here

DRAFT REPORT (January 2013):

  • "What Do People Think About Congestion Pricing? A Deliberative Dialogue with the Residents of Metropolitan Washington." Click here
  • Presentation to TPB summarizing the Draft Report. Click here

KEY DOCUMENTS:

  • "Road-use Pricing: How Would You Like to Spend Less Time in Traffic?" Benjamin K. Orr and Alice M. Rivlin, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, June 2009. Click here
  • "CLRP Aspirations Scenario Final Report (Constrained Long-Range Plan)," National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (MWCOG), Authors: Monica Bansal, Darren Smith, 2010. Click here
  • "Evaluating Alternative Scenarios for a Network of Variably Priced Highway Lanes in the Metropolitan Washington Region," National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (MWCOG), Authors: Michael D. Eichler, Gerald K. Miller, Jinchul Park. 2008. Click here
  • "NCHRP Synthesis 377: Compilation of Public Opinion Data on Tolls and Road Pricing," National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), Johanna Zmud and Carlos Arce (NuStats, LLC), 2008. Click here
  • "Addressing Equity in Political Debates over Road Pricing: Lessons from Recent Projects," Brian D. Taylor and Rebecca Kalauskas, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2187, 2010.
  • "2010 State of the Commute Survey Report from the Metropolitan Washington Region," National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (MWCOG) Commuter Connections Program, Author: Nicholas Ramfos, 2011. Click here
  • "Gaining Public Support for Congestion Charging: Notes from Europe on the Implementation of Bold Transportation Policies," John Swanson, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., September 2009.

STUDY APPENDICES:

  • Discussion Guide: "Should we use congestion pricing to help solve our traffic woes?" Deliberative Forums, October 2011-January 2012. MWCOG/TPB Study on the Public Acceptability of Congestion Pricing. Click here
  • Forum Presentations: "Should we use congestion pricing to help solve our traffic woes?" Deliberative Forums, October 2011-January 2012. John Swanson, MWCOG/ TPB; Benjamin Orr, Brookings Institution. MWCOG/TPB Study on the Public Acceptability of Congestion Pricing. Click here
  • Summary of Results of Keypad Voting. Deliberative Forums, October 2011-January 2012. MWCOG/TPB Study on the Public Acceptability of Congestion Pricing. Click here
  • 2010 State of the Commute Survey, Technical Survey Report on Questions on Transportation Satisfaction and Investment. Prepared for the MWCOG Commuter Connections Program by LDA Consulting in conjunction with CIC Research, Inc., August 9, 2010. Click here
  • Literature Review: "Public Acceptability of Road-Use Pricing," Prepared for the Brookings Institution by Rick Rybeck, Just Economics, LLC, April 28, 2012. Click here
  • Literature Review: "Synthesis of research to inform the final report on congestion pricing in the Washington DC region," Memo prepared by Martha Ross, Brookings Institution, May 29, 2012. Click here

POSTER PRESENTED AT TRB ANNUAL CONFERENCE:

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

John Swanson ~ jswanson@mwcog.org ~ (202) 962-3295


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