Why experience changes attitudes to congestion pricing: The case of Gothenburg

Publisher's full text
Jonas Eliasson
Carl Johnsson Hamilton

Many cities have seen public support for congestion charges increase substantially after charges have been introduced. Several alternative explanations of this phenomenon have been suggested, but so far little evidence has been available to assess the relative importance of these explanations. We study attitudes to congestion pricing in Gothenburg before and after congestion charges were introduced in January 2013. Attitudes to the charges did indeed become more positive after the introduction, just as in previous cities. Using a two-wave postal survey, we separate contributions to the attitude change from a number of sources: benefits and costs being different than anticipated, use of hypothecated revenues, reframing processes, and changes in related attitudes such as attitudes to environment, equity, taxation and pricing measures in general. We conclude that the dominant reason for the attitude change is status quo bias, rather than any substantial changes in beliefs or related attitudes, although some of these factors also contribute. Contrary to a common belief, nothing of the attitude change is due to benefits being larger than anticipated.

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