Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Dutch Road Pricing Proposal

with one comment

The TerraPass Footprint has a short piece on the proposed introduction of road pricing into the Netherlands in 2011. It includes this useful  link to the official (english language) Dutch government site – and a biggish pdf file can be downloaded from there.

We have known about road pricing for a long time and some of us have speculated how long it would be before Metro Vancouver seriously considered it. This proposal is much closer to what it needed here, regionwide, than other existing congestion pricing schemes which are based simply on a flat fee for a central area (like London).

It really is a serious alternative because it is structured in a way that is both tied directly to the behaviour that causes the problems but it also equitable, since it replaces other taxes on cars which are regressive.  It also has a good chance of working there since the Netherlands has an excellent public transport system and one of the highest bicycle use rates already.

A system here could also be revenue neutral if it replaced not just taxes on car ownership but also basic car insurance premiums. It has been clear for a long time that pay as you drive insurance would be a much better idea than subsidies to people who drive badly and a lot from low risk drivers who do not drive very far. ICBC refuses to even talk about it.

RP also does not stand a chance of being fairly evaluated here, since all our institutions are geared up to continue doing what they have always done, but expect a different outcome this time. And, of course, it was Not Invented Here and could not possibly work in this region. Just like so many other innovations which other places have introduced but leave us baffled. But an RP scheme would end once and for all the problem that Translink now faces – the cash crunch – which it has always faced – and would also eliminate the need for the road building schemes which are about to destroy the  hope of a sustainable and liveable region. Becuase we know that you cannot build your way out of congestion – no-one ever has – but several places are now showing that you can price your way out of congestion.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Economics

One Response

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  1. I have read much about road pricing and what is needed before any road pricing scheme will succeed, is a quality public transit service and sadly buses don’t count.

    It is no coincidence that most European road-pricing schemes have come in conjunction with new LRT projects; both new lines and refurbishment.

    One should look at the woes in Manchester, where road-pricing is part and parcel of the extension of the cities LRT network.

    Unlike London, where the city has a rabbit warren of Underground and TUBE lines, Vancouver’s SkyTrain metro doesn’t cut it.

    Until we get quality public transport in the region, road-pricing will be political suicide to any politician in the region.

    Malcolm J.

    December 11, 2008 at 7:35 am

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