In London in 2006, the Central Congestion Charging program reduced traffic entering the central London charging zone during charging hours by 21 percent.

August 2008

Summary Information

The report "Lessons Learned from International Experience in Congestion Pricing", prepared in August 2008, provides a summary of selected operational area wide congestion pricing projects outside the United States. This report provides findings and draws lessons from a sample of projects with the richest and most relevant experience, focusing on three comprehensive area wide projects: Singapore, London and Stockholm. Each received in-depth attention during planning, design, implementation and operational phases and have been monitored and evaluated carefully. These projects should be of particular interest now that several U.S. cities are beginning to examine similar area wide pricing strategies to address congestion, environmental, energy and funding problems in heavily congested downtown areas.

Research on acceptability is especially detailed in these international locations and provides valuable lessons for U.S. cities interested in pursuing such policies. The report concludes with overall findings and lessons related to travel, costs and revenues, equity and economic impacts, environmental impacts; and public acceptance. These projects have demonstrated that pricing can be an affective means of managing demand and generating revenues and can be politically and publicly acceptable.

Findings from London

The methodology used in this report involved synthesizing information from a number of different sources. The information relevant to this benefit was taken from the Transport for London annual impact monitoring reports (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), CURACAO (2007), and Wikipedia (2008). In the Central London Congestion Charging Zone (which includes downtown London and the City of Westminster bordering on the West side) and the surrounding area, traffic adjusted rapidly to the introduction of pricing. This cordon, or areawide, road pricing program was launched in February 2003.

The program entails a flat weekday fee (initially set at £5, the fee was raised to £8 in 2005) for vehicles crossing into, leaving, or traveling within the charging zone. More than 650 closed-circuit cameras set up at the cordon and within the zone and moving vans police the zone, capturing live video images of the license plates of all vehicles. Any applicable daily charge must be paid for a vehicle that is on a public road in the Congestion Charge Zone during the charging period. The charging is effective between 7:00 AM and 6:30PM (modified in 2007 to 7:00-6:00).

The Transport for London (TfL) reported in 2003 that the average number of cars and delivery vehicles entering the central zone on a daily basis was 60,000 fewer than the previous year. Around 50–60 percent of this reduction was attributed to transfers to public transport, 20–30 percent to journeys avoiding the zone, 15-25 percent switching to car share, and the remainder to reduced number of journeys, more traveling outside the hours of operation, and increased use of motorbikes and bicycles. Journey times decreased by 14 percent. Variation in journey time for a particular route repeated on many occasions also decreased.

Traffic levels observed in 2003 were essentially maintained in 2004 and 2005, with some evidence of modest overall reductions in traffic coinciding with the increase in the congestion charge in July 2005. By 2006, key traffic measures were being maintained, with the balance of evidence suggesting further small declines in total traffic in and around the Central London charging zone. The TfL reports that, "…overall patterns of traffic established following the introduction of the scheme in 2003 have again remained largely unchanged." Traffic entering the central London charging zone during charging hours in 2006 was 21 percent lower than before charging began in 2002. According to TfL, "as in previous years, available traffic indicators outside the Central London charging zone have continued to indicate small background declines to overall traffic levels, with no evidence of significant adverse effects."


See Also:
Central London Congestion Charging: Impacts Monitoring - Sixth Annual Report, July 2008.

Central London Congestion Charging: Impacts Monitoring - Fifth Annual Report, July 2007.

Central London Congestion Charging: Impacts Monitoring - Fourth Annual Report, June 2006.

Central London Congestion Charging: Impacts Monitoring - Third Annual Report, April 2005.

CURACAO (2007), “Work Package II: State of the Art Report (Draft)”, Coordination of
Urban Road User Charging and Organizational Issues, University of Leeds for the EC
Curacao Project, U.K., 2007.

Wikipedia (2008), “London Congestion Charge”,

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Lessons Learned From International Experience in Congestion Pricing - Final Report

Author: Kiran Bhatt, Thomas Higgins

Published By: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

Source Date: August 2008



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Goal Areas


Related Metropolitan Integration Links

Link 12: Freeway Management to Transit Management

Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas, Rural Areas


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Benefit ID: 2010-00652