An International Comparative Analysis of Equitable Road Pricing Strategies

Research Team: Mollie D’Agostino (lead) and Austin Brown

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Road pricing policies can be an effective tool for encouraging carpooling, public transit use, and other alternatives to driving alone. It can also help in reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), traffic congestion, and emissions, while generating revenues for transportation investments. However, the potentially regressive nature of road pricing systems represents a challenge for policymakers and practitioners who need clear guidance in order to develop road pricing policy approaches that are effective, politically feasible, and equitable.

Project Description: This project will identify strategies for equitable road pricing policies and help policymakers understand the tradeoffs and consequences of the various options. There will be two parts to the analysis: First, the researchers will conduct a meta-analysis to evaluate literature relating to six proposed but yet-to-be-deployed congestion pricing systems in Vancouver, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand as well as four cities in the United States – Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. The comparative analysis will examine the policies each of the cities are considering, including alternatives to traditional cordon pricing, and how each city is proposing to maximize equity. The second part of the project will identify best practices in the literature for offsetting some of the costs for low- income drivers drawn from existing transportation pricing strategies (such as variable priced lanes, multi-occupant discounts, and variable priced transit passes), as well as other economic sectors (such as subsidies for utilities, housing, or nutrition).

Status: In Progress

Budget: $15,000

Project Partner(s): Sacramento Area Council of Governments