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Chapter 3 | Congestion charging as an alternative strategy

3.3 Criteria used to determine ‘success’

The success of a congestion charging scheme depends on the benchmark criteria

used. In the first instance, a scheme will be judged against its specified objectives.

Where this is to reduce congestion, the scheme will logically be regarded as a success

when it achieves this. Where there are several, potentially conflicting, objectives the

assessment is more complex.

The premise underlying this chapter is that there are many measures of success and

not all will be consistent with the longterm

community interest. For instance,

a sure way of reducing congestion

would be to close the road. This is

unlikely to improve community welfare.

In the following pages we examine the

standard measures of success, including

ultimately ‘economic success’. 31

More generally, schemes may be judged on the basis of one or more of the following

measures:

• technical success

• political success

• financial success

• economic success.

Assessing whether a congestion

charging scheme is successful depends

on the benchmark criteria used.

We note that the treatment of equity and ‘fairness’ are generally subsumed under the

more general ‘political success’ category. See Chapter 4 for a detailed discussion of

equity issues.

3.4 Technical success

Technical success can be as simple as whether the equipment works with sufficient

accuracy and reliability. This may have nothing at all to do with the more complex

question of whether the most suitable technology was chosen for the job. This point

is illustrated by the contrast between the London congestion charge and the German

lorry charge. The former was an ‘off the shelf’, well established technology while the

latter employed cutting-edge GPS/Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)—in

conjunction with more established dedicated short range communication (DSRC)

systems.

The London system was ready on schedule, is reliable, although ‘clunky’, and, by no

measure, ‘low cost’. The German system suffered a number of costly delays but it is

now regarded as a success. The point is that in the widespread discussion of both

systems, the focus has been on the technical success and there has been little debate

31. Economic success can be regarded as the proxy for the community interest in that it ensures the greatest return to

the community, potentially providing for the maximum improvement in community welfare.

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