The Swedish congestion charges: Ten years on

Publisher's full text

Time-of-day dependent cordon-based congestion charging systems were introduced in Stockholm in 2006, and in Gothenburg in 2013. The Stockholm system was significantly extended in 2016, and the peak charge has been increased in the two cities. This paper analyses the effects of the first decade with the Swedish congestion charges, specifically effects of the system updates, and draws policy lessons for the years to come. Should we introduce congestion charges in more cities? Should we extend the systems that we have? We synthesize previous research findings and focus on the long-term effects that have varied over time including the recent years: the price elasticities on the traffic volume across the cordon, the revenue and system operating cost, the public and political support, and consequences for the transport planning process. We also explore the effects on peak and off-peak, and different types of traffic (trucks, company cars and private passenger cars), because of access to novel data that make this analysis possible. We find that the price elasticities have increased over time in Stockholm, but decreased in Gothenburg. We find that the public support increased in the two cities after their introduction until the systems were revised; since then, the public support has declined in both cities. We find that the price elasticity was substantially lower when the charging levels were increased, and when the Stockholm system was extended, than when the charges were first introduced, a likely reason being that the most price-sensitive traffic was already priced off-the road at the introduction.

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