7 ways next-generation congestion charging can make your scheme more effective and fairer
“Traditional congestion charging schemes may help to reduce demand, but they often overlook important factors such as the true environmental damage of journeys, if alternative transport options exist, and motorists’ ability to pay. The good news for cities is that a new generation of solutions is making congestion charging more effective, fairer, and more popular with city residents,” says Bernard Lamy, Executive VP Solution Center Tolling, Kapsch TrafficCom.
By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities – that’s 2.5 billion more of us. At the same time, private vehicle ownership continues to increase – especially in developing economies – which means more people, more cars, and more traffic jams.
Many cities have already implemented congestion charging schemes to help limit demand on city roads. However, these schemes are often limited in size and scope, and overly simple – which means that they can’t achieve their full demand management potential.
For example, traditional schemes apply standard charges for vehicles entering a restricted area, or during restricted times. This means that vehicles, and especially those used for taxi or Uber work, can circulate indefinitely for the entire day with no need to pay more than the initial access fee.
This kind of standard, over-simplified approach also fails to distinguish between essential and non-essential journeys, or if drivers have alternative travel options available. Likewise, there’s often no distinction between affluent drivers and those who are less able to pay, which often means charging practices are seen as unfair.
For all of these reasons, local residents often push back against planned congestion charging schemes, or heavily criticize schemes that are put in place.
7 winning capabilities of next-generation congestion charging
The good news for cities is that a new generation of congestion charging solutions is helping to make schemes more effective and equitable. This can be achieved with 7 key features:
- Integration with Integrated Mobility Management (IMM) solutions that improve ‘traffic supply’
While congestion charging traditionally aims to reduce traffic demand, next-generation approaches integrate with Integrated Mobility Management (IMM) solutions that increase ‘supply’ – or road traffic capacity. This can be achieved with solutions such as adaptive signal control, which reduces congestion on the city road network by up to 30% by continually optimizing traffic light settings in line with fluctuating vehicle flows.
- Expansion of congestion-charging schemes to traffic hotspots across the city
Often, congestion charging schemes are limited to city centres, which means they only benefit an extremely limited area. Next-generation schemes can scale seamlessly to cover more of the urban road network, improving traffic flow, reducing travel times, and helping to control air pollution.
- Reduction of charges to the lowest effective levels
By integrating data from vehicles and mobile devices, next-generation congestion charging solutions can establish the minimum effective charging levels to achieve your traffic management objectives. While many motorists will always take their cars, up to 5% can be easily influenced to take alternative transport modes by applying even a small charge.
- Fair pricing based on journey impact and motorists’ ability to pay
Next-generation schemes consider the negative impacts of every journey and the economic status of motorists – and set pricing accordingly. This makes congestion charging fairer, while also reducing journeys with the biggest negative impacts on journey times and the environment.
- Traffic and journey time SLAs for motorists
With built-in analytics capabilities, next-generation congestion charging solutions can trigger refunds if travel times exceed pre-defined SLAs. This is a vital tool for ensuring road-users’ satisfaction, and for successfully gaining buy in for schemes with city populations.
- End-to-end data protection for compliance with EU’s GDPR and other global data protection regulations
All next-generation schemes need to protect motorists’ data from end to end, including their personally identifiable information (PII) and trip data. This requires technologies that anonymise or ‘obfuscate’ data, also called semantic deanonymization, which ensures that any breach does not put drivers’ sensitive personal or trip information at risk.
- Support for multiple charging regimes
With next-generation solutions, you can implement the kind of charging regime that best suits the needs of your city, from charging by vehicle type, to zone-based charging, cordon-based charging, or even mileage-based charging (which is increasingly considered the fairest type of charging).
Optimize your congestion charging strategy with Kapsch TrafficCom
Kapsch TrafficCom provides the infrastructure, business logic, and data protection technologies needed for next-generation congestion charging. In doing so, we can help you achieve holistic, city wide traffic reduction, with options for zone-based, cordon-based, or mileage-based charging approaches.
Our smart congestion charging solutions also support fairer pricing based on current traffic conditions, vehicle and journey types, and motorists’ ability to pay. We can also support SLAs for journey times, with automated refunds if these are exceeded – helping you increase support for your scheme locally.
To find out more about Kapsch TrafficCom’s congestion charging capabilities, and how we can help you reduce traffic demand in restricted zones and deliver major economic and environmental benefits for your city, please contact us today, or visit Tolling Services.