What role will road pricing play in the urban mobility system of the future?

22 June 2011  •  Author(s): Ivo Cré, Project Manager, Polis

The number of cities in Europe that are implementing urban road user charging schemes is growing very modestly. The EU is planning the preparation of the policy framework for urban road user charging. At the same time, a new debate emerges in Brussels, and in EU member states: what is the future funding actually needed to maintain, and improve urban transport systems in view of European targets and ambitions? In this discussion, the self-financing potential of transport investments is crucial and Urban Road User Charging (URUC) is coming into view as a financing tool. But can urban tolling serve that purpose, when it is initially designed to curb congestion?

The current state of play of urban road user charging in the EU

Economic theory states that as the cost of transport is better internalised, use of infrastructures will become more efficient. Goods and people will stop moving, or will move at different times of the day, when infrastructure is less scarce. The money collected from internalisation should ideally go to financing solutions that in the future help to avoid external costs (such as new infrastructure, or better adapted infrastructure, new transport options, such as public transport, or cleaner vehicles). For a while, urban tolling was a very hot topic in Europe.

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