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Changing Lanes: Addressing America’s Congestion Problems Through Road User Pricing

Road user pricing may be the approach jurisdictions need to ease traffic, raise funds for infrastructure improvements, help


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Addressing America’s Congestion Problems Traffic is overwhelming a growing number of America’s cities. From Los Angeles to Chicago to Miami, Americans spend hours each week caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Urban residents and commuters are confronted with the challenges that jammed roadways cause on a daily basis. The Urban Mobility Report estimated 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, governments facing increasing demands and reduced budgets may consider creating a market in which people are charged for their use of a given roadway to help raise additional funds for transportation projects.  The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that about 18 percent of the more than 912,000 miles of America’s roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition, and about 27 percent of the nearly 594,000 U.S. bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

How can America’s cities and states reduce congestion, raise necessary funds for infrastructure improvements and reduce the environmental impact of congested roads? A new study from Deloitte highlights the benefits of road user pricing to reduce gridlock and raise significant revenues in the process.

Road pricing is based on a simple economic rationale: Road space often is a scarce commodity. Through international experiences and more recent U.S. pilot programs, robust frameworks have emerged for selecting and implementing optimal road user pricing systems that help match particular local needs and challenges.

Jurisdictions contemplating road user pricing face many challenges and often start the process with far more questions than answers:

  • Are there different road user pricing systems to chose from? If so, how do we know which system is right for our road networks?
  • What types of technologies can be used for the various systems, and what should we look at to know which will work best for the citizens in the area?
  • How can we ensure that the system affords privacy and equity? How can we gain public support for the system?
  • What other cities have piloted road user pricing and what lessons have they learned from those implementations?
  • What challenges are we likely to face? What should we consider in light of these challenges?

The Deloitte report examines all these frequently asked questions and reviews customizable solutions to consider when addressing your jurisdiction's specific needs. To learn which road user pricing model is best for your city or state, read the attached report, "Changing Lanes: Addressing America’s Congestion Problems Through Road User Pricing."

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