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Chapter 4 | Congestion charging and community attitudes

favourable impact on a large interest group, particularly in an area where say, only

around 10 per cent regularly paid the congestion charges.

Economic efficiency aside, the main focus in the US has been on providing an option

to paying the congestion charge. In this section, we draw on two US proposals for

using the revenue from congestion charging to reward those road users that opt for

the general lanes over the faster flowing, tolled lanes.

High-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes

The widespread under-utilisation of HOV lanes 75 in the US has created pressure to

convert them to HOT lanes, allowing access to those solo drivers willing to pay a

charge in return for reduced congestion. 76 Traffic throughput improves on both the

former HOV lane as well as the now less-congested general lanes, ensuring a more

efficient utilisation of road space.

However, there is still some community resistance to such changes. Two options have

been suggested to reduce this resistance: credit based congestion pricing (CBCP)

and fast and intertwined regular (FAIR) lanes.

The CBCP concept has been developed by Kockelman, Boother, and Kalmanje to deal

with the equity concerns associated with congestion charging. Under this system,

revenues from HOT lanes are returned to all licensed drivers in a uniform fashion, as

a ‘driving allowance’. The result would be that the average driver would pay nothing,

the below average driver would profit and frequent, long-distance and peak-period

drivers pay something out of pocket, ‘in effect paying others to stay off congested

roads’ (Kockelman, Boother and Kalmanje 2005, p. 1).

DeCorla-Souza developed a similar concept of FAIR lanes to address the equity

concerns surrounding congestion charging (DeCorla-Souza 2002). FAIR lanes would

also involve fast tolled lanes alongside of general purpose lanes. Under the FAIR lane

proposal, the fast tolled lanes would be tolled electronically, with tolls set in real time

to limit traffic to the free-flowing maximum. Drivers using the general purpose lanes

during rush hours would be compensated with credits (equivalent to a percentage of

the toll) that could be used as toll payments and possibly transit tickets or van-pool

credits. Like the CBCP scheme, this payment would be regarded as compensation for

increased congestion that drivers in the remaining general purpose lane would face

and for giving up their right to use (now) express FAIR lanes.

These schemes aim to improve public acceptance of congestion charging, retaining

optional, untolled lanes beside the tolled lane (generally, a HOT lane in the US).

Administrative issues aside, such as identifying those road users eligible for the

payments without encouraging increased use of the road, these circumstances are

not as widespread outside the US and hence the option may be of limited relevance

in other countries. Furthermore, as Nelson points out ‘because HOT lanes do not

appear to inflict large welfare losses on any identifiable group of travellers’ then

compensation is not such an important issue (Nelson 2003, p.48).

75. ‘High occupancy’ is often only H2, meaning two occupants.

76. Some, such as 91 Express Lanes (running between Los Angeles and Orange County), have been purpose-built while

others, such as those on Interstate 15 (San Diego), involved converting a HOV lane to a HOT lane.

95

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