Category Archives: Economic instruments

Congestion Offsets vs Road Pricing: The quest for efficiency and equity

Matthew Bradley and Jeff Kenworthy help us to set out on our search for USA tollbooth attendenteconomic instruments that can be effective in reducing traffic congestion while leveling the playing field between cars and other transport in ways that are both efficient and equitable.  They tell us that: “A major part of the urban transport problem today is a failure from the very beginning to acknowledge that congestion is fundamentally inequitable and unfair, impractical to construct away, and therefore must be properly charged for and controlled to eliminate the transport system dysfunction which is systemic in cities today.” Recommended reading for anyone with  a serious interest in how to get the most out of economic instruments in our troubled, seriously underperforming sector.

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Congestion Relief Strategies for Asian Cities

This article by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has just appeared in the December 2013 issue of the United Nation’s “Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific.”  It reinforces many of the strategies and principles set out in the New Mobility Agenda 2014/15 program, and  provides useful reading for anybody concerned with transportation, mobility and public space improvements in Penang and George Town.  A summary introduction to the full paper follows extracting a final section on Optimal Congestion Solutions  and the Conclusions. The full paper is recommended and freely available at http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf.

penang_bridge_toll

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William Vickerey: On Principles of Efficient Congestion Pricing

William Spenser Vickerey, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, is William Vickereyconsidered the father of Congestion Pricing. He first proposed it in 1952, for the New York City subway system, recommending that fares be increased in peak times and in high-traffic sections and be lowered in others. Elected officials considered it risky at the time, and the technology was not ready. Later, he made a similar proposal for road pricing.

This article was written in 1992 by Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, to summarize some of the defining  principles set out in Vickerey’s extensive path-breaking early extensive pathbreaking contributions which in many ways defined the field. This essay can be found in its original form in the website of the Institute  at http://www.vtpi.org/vickrey.htm.

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Rent Seeking . . . and Transportation Service Innovations

impossible - Steve Blank on Rent seekersThis double blog reposting on this important topic is worthy of our readers’ attention on several grounds. Here at World Streets we are, after all, in a very real way in the transportation service innovations business, that being a key underpinning of the transition and the “politics of transport in cities”.  We recommend you consult it in two passes: the first being to read below the full text of Dave King’s concise commentary that appeared yesterday, 26 June, in “Getting from here to there”. And from there you may wish to move on to the full piece of Steve Blank in the Berkeley blog – click here.

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Speeding to a standstill

This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The speeding car  mando2802.edublogs.orgapproach and methodology are interesting.  And in it  you will find a certain number of points  which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.

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Congestion Pricing: Neoliberal approaches and their results in three world cities

In 2013 we shall be giving quite a lot of attention to congestion pricing or sweden stockholm congestoin chargingcharging by its many names and variants, all of which sharing the goal of finding ways to make drivers pay for entry and use of a scarce resource, road space in city centers . This fascinating article by Themis Chronopoulos which is introduced here takes quite an original point of view in his thorough analysis of three of the most recent and widely followed  projects (or in the case of New York City, would-be project). (Note: A quick search of Google this morning called up some 4,370,000 references under the single term of congestion pricing. Something must be going on.) Continue reading

What is the right price for “Free” Public Transport?

No Dorothy, it would be nice but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not even in Kansas. Our cities need money to operate and maintain all the many parts of their hopefully high quality “public transport” systems”, but they also need schools, sanitation, health facilities, elderly care,  parks and public spaces, security, jobs to give everyone a chance for a full life in a peaceful community . . . and the long list goes on.  Transport, which can finance itself largely, if you have the brains to get it right, should not be poaching from these no-less critical basic needs of the community.  More,  we need our public transport systems (21st century definitions) to be both freely and extensively used (what is sadder than an empty bus!) — and at the same time build in provisions so that the system is fully equitable as well as efficient. Continue reading

Learning from Lyon: Free Public Transport that really works

Here is a “free transport project” that is working remarkably well: In the Spring of 2005 the community of Greater Lyon in cooperation with their supplier JCDecaux launched the world’s first mega Public Bike System, Vélo’v. The project put some 3000 bikes into service, available in about 300 stations spread for the most part over the City of Lyon. All this is successful, amply detailed in many places and continues to this day to yield yeoman service for some 60,000 registered users (including the author). To gain access to the system, in addition to one day or one week tickets, the user pays an annual fee of € 25, and when using a bike a caution is debited from the users credit card until it is returned to a parking slot. From a user perspective it is a very successful system and use experience.

* But where is the “free public transport” element?

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Some Early References on Free Public Transport

This list is taken from the 2010 posting provided by the Free public transportation Debate at http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_Free_public_transportation. It needs to be updated but still is a useful point of reference, along with the latest Wikipedia entry at Free Public Transport. Please send us your updates either as Comments here, or to editor@worldstreets.org. Thank you. Continue reading

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Brief: L.A. County toll lanes get smooth start, despite grumbling As officials unveiled the  first toll lanes on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway this weekend, some drivers said they had questions about how the new fare program worked. … Continue reading

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Paris: Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity. This ambitious effort on the part of Paris’s mayor and his team is well worth following, even if for some it is may be a bit inconvenient for those not able … Continue reading

Whitelegg proposes radical overhaul and extension of congestion charge in London.

This report by Professor John Whitelegg scrutinizes the possibilities for developing the existing London congestion charge as a response to concerns about future levels of congestion, air pollution and health and economic efficiency. These concerns are important policy considerations at any time but against a background of forecast increases in population and economic activity in the Greater London area they become more important still. World Streets is more than pleased to share this original work with our readers, not less because we take a strong stance against the introduction of technology-based road pricing in cities of the Global South, where it is our view here are more effective ways of achieving the goals of traffic reduction and much-needed new sources of income for public and non-motorised transport. Let’s see what John has to say in this timely report from a London perspective. Continue reading

Public audit and transport budget transparency: Pune India

Parisar is a civil society organization in Pune India working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development. Its work focuses mainly on sustainable urban transport, since it recognizes that unsustainable transport policies and systems are the foremost threat to urban environment and quality of life. This article, kindly shared with us by their blog team at http://www.parisar.org/, reports on an activity the likes of which we would like to see in every city in the world — a continuing citizen audit of the city’s budget, and in particular those aspects that relate to transportation investments and expenditures. Continue reading

Mr. Meter on America’s “Cash for Clunkers”

(While Lee Schipper is recovering, here is another example of his always-on prescience in the poorly lit streets of this gasping planet.) If matters of climate, sustainable transportation and careful use of scarce resources are close to your heart, and you happen to be European, you may have some reserves about your country’s ecologically billed, and energetically buttressed “Cash for Clunkers” (in more polite Euro language of course) program. Let a couple of Americans energy policy experts help you feel a bit less embarrassed. You are not alone. Continue reading

The New Economics of Sustainable Development

To negotiate the move from old to new mobility, we have to understand as well the importance of moving from old to new economics. Back in 1997 James Robertson, respected British economist, monetary reformer and policy counsel to government, took a hard look at “The New Economics of Sustainable Development” in a report prepared for the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission. Today, half a generation later, this exceptionally insightful piece still brings up points to which we should be giving attention. It is unfortunate that the clock has stood still for this important part of the sustainability dialogue. No wonder we are making so very little progress in the right direction. Let’s have a close look at what James has to propose and mull it all over from a 2011 perspective.
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Free Parking Is for Socialists

Down with Free Auto Parking! Up with Free Market Parking!

- by Michael Andersen

THERE’S NOTHING like watching the degenerates of NW 23rd to make you wonder when liberal America’s war on families is going to end.

What frightens me most about this neighborhood isn’t the decadence. It’s the entitlement. These people now insist that the rest of us open our wallets to extend them special benefits at public expense.

I’m speaking, of course, of free automobile parking. Continue reading

Pay-As-You-Drive Vehicle Insurance: Is it in the cards as a new mobility strategy?

This white paper  by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, just issued the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, looks at the potential  for Pay as you Drive (PAYD) insurance both in general and in the specific case of British Columbia. With Pay as you Drive – i.e., “context sensitive insurance”  – what you pay for this big-ticket item is conditional on not only distance travelled but also time and place. The concept has been around for decades but has started to gain traction in the last half dozen years. Let’s have a look. Continue reading

Op-Ed. On relative costs of PRT, auto and public transit

There are a number of important factors to consider when comparing PRT, public transit and automobile costs, and therefore when comparing the cost-efficiency of roadway versus transit investments.  (Commentary by Todd Litman of Victoria Transport Policy  Institute on some of the figures raised in the discussions of PRT vs. cars and public transport.) Continue reading

Budget of 2011 in India: What could they be thinking?

While one face of the government sulks and spoils, the other dares to act. The budget making exercise this year in India is an evidence of this. There is progressive grassroots decision to discourage polluting diesel cars and encourage public transport and bicycles in India’s capital city of Delhi, which is in sharp contrast to the reactionary non-visionary action at the national level. Anumita Roychowdhury reports from Delhi. Continue reading

The economic case for on-street bike parking

BikenomicsIf your city is to go the bike route, and we can think of no good reason why it should not, you have to figure out the parking angle. Which, once you get into it, proves to be not nearly as easy as you might at first have thought.  Here is a thoughtful piece on the on-street parking piece of the city bike puzzle which appears in Grist this morning under the byline of the ever-inventive Elly Blue.  We propose you check it out with that second cup of coffee. Continue reading

We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.

This is a personal call to those of you who have over the years participated in the rather numerous programs and working groups we have since 1988 carefully crafted and maintained in support of worldwide peer collaboration and exchange in our tough but important field: under the New Mobility Agenda, World Streets or one of its sister publications (see below), or who have of late plugged in to our pages on Facebook or Twitter. I feel pretty quite comfortable in doing this since you know what we are trying to do, and who better for me to turn to at a time of need. (And oh yes, for those who may not recall, that citation above was  by Nobel Prize winner Professor Ernest Rutherford, on taking over the quite broke Cavendish Laboratory in 1919, in the wake of the First World War.) Continue reading

What’s a life worth?

Gladwyn d’Souza comments from California an article that has just appeared in the New York Times on this subject. “The United States Environmental Protections Agency, EPA, should really be discussing the allocation of risk. A large curb radius for example transfers risk from the speeding driver to the pedestrian. The issue is that speed and convenience embody an energy bill whose consequences are not repatriated on the basis of least harm to public safety. While the consequences are local, an injury on your street corner, the impact under NAFTA, etc., of comparative or qualitative instead of preventive risk assessment is habitat destructive.  . . . ” Continue reading

Sustainable transport in Delhi and Stockholm

This article addresses from an Indo-Swedish perspective issues of the development of transport systems, taking its examples from Delhi and Stockholm. The introduction of the first BRT or bus rapid transport corridor in Delhi and the institution of a congestion tax in Stockholm are presented and discussed in terms of modernisation and sustainable transport. The authors explore the perceptions of politicians and examine the two projects in the search for the driving forces for transport policies. Despite all the differences, some similarities in the development of their urban transport projects have been found.

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Autolib’ – Paris bets big on new carshare technology

A sustainable transport system is a system of choices – quite the opposite in many ways of the old all-car no-choice model that all too often spends most of its time in taking up scarce space but not moving. With this very much in view, the City of Paris has just stepped up to the plate and is now in the process of bringing into service what they propose will be a new link in the chain of sustainable transport options: a carsharing system not quite like any other. No less than three thousand cars to come on line in shared service in just nine months – and electric cars at that – working out of 1000 to 1200 stations spotted over not only the central city but a number of surrounding communities as well. The biggest and most daring carshare bet of all time. Continue reading

Transport, environment and public policy in hard times

We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
- Ernest Rutherford, on taking over the Caversham Laboratory in 1919

On 2 December the managing editor of World Streets, Eric Britton, was invited by the organizers of the National Autumn Conference of ACT TravelWise to present the keynote address, following an opening presentation by Norman Baker, MP and Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport of the just-elected UK coalition government. The theme of the conference was “The Right to Travel – Getting more for less” — and Britton was asked to bring in some international perspectives and possibly some less familiar ideas for the largely British audience after the Minister’s presentation. Continue reading