Could User Fees Break Gridlock?


Road user pricing is an effective approach to the gridlocked traffic facing many communities in the United States, according to a new study from Deloitte, Changing Lanes: Addressing America’s Congestion Problems Through Road User Pricing.

The study cites statistics showing that in the United States in 2007 congestion caused 4.2 billion hours of travel delay and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, for a total cost of $78.2 billion. At the same time, approximately 18% of the nation’s more than 912,000 miles of roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition, and approximately 27% of the nearly 594,000 U.S. bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

The answer could be road user pricing, which links travelers’ driving choices to the actual costs imposed on the traffic system. The study says pricing systems can be designed that both reduce traffic congestion and raise money to make needed repairs—but the system has to fit the need.

Road user pricing can be implemented in several ways, including pricing on a single corridor, pricing areas within dense urban environments during peak travel, and developing variable pricing for parking.

New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver have each explored the potential for road user pricing in recent months.

Source: Deloitte, www.deloitte.com/us/transportation.

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