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BITRE | Working paper 74

The cordon scheme contemplated for Manchester is targeted at influencing city-centre

commuting. Under the proposal, the scheme will extend well beyond Manchester’s

central core area and is therefore of practical interest for Australian cities seeking to

apply a scheme on a large-scale. 42 The plan is to establish an inner-city cordon and

an outer cordon near Manchester’s outer perimeter. Weekday inbound traffic will be

charged in the morning peak (£2 for crossing the outer cordon and £1 for crossing

the inner cordon) and outbound traffic will be charged in the afternoon peak (£1 for

each crossing). That is, a motorist would incur a total of £5 by crossing both cordons

during peak periods. A lower charge will

The larger the congestion charging zone,

the less effective it is as a comprehensive

tool. In this context, area charging is

more effective but also more complex

and costly.

be levied in the afternoon as congestion

is lower at that time.

Manchester’s scheme is likely to ‘bite’ on

travel because it targets specific traffic

flows at specific times. However, it is

important to recognise that the scheme

is unlikely to affect traffic flows within

the cordon zones. This is something that, in principle, London’s area charge does

tackle, although the complexity of the scheme inevitably increases implementation

costs considerably. The lesson, then, for Australia is that the larger the charging area,

the less effective the cordon charging becomes as a comprehensive tool to tackle

congestion.

3.11 Primary benefits of congestion charging

schemes

In this section we consider the primary benefits that are attributed to congestion

charging schemes, the main one of which is to internalise the external time delay

costs that drivers can impose on each other as rival users of scarce road space on

a highly-utilised road. To the extent that the charge modifies behaviour, it can also

be perceived to improve the environment. Finally, scheme proponents may see the

revenue raised as being a benefit to the extent that the proceeds can be applied to

funding road maintenance or investment or to public transport. This is often referred

to as the ‘double dividend’.

Internalising external costs

Congestion charging is a relatively unique policy instrument in that it holds appeals

for both environmentalists and governments. Environmentalists embrace the pointof-use

charging aspect as a tool to discourage driving and encourage alternate modes

of transport, with a subsequent reduction in emissions. For budget-constrained

governments, congestion charging can be viewed as a solution to the current and

forecast debilitating levels of congestion while bolstering their ‘green credentials’.

The access to a previously untapped source of revenue can also be an attraction.

42. See, for instance, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (undated) for details of the proposal.

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