Commentary

Report Released on International Experience with Road Pricing Schemes

Transportation Research Board and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a report entitled: International Scan: Reducing Congestion & Funding Transportation Using Road Pricing. The scan team looked at the road pricing schemes being used around the world with the purpose of identifying new ideas and practical, workable models for integrating road pricing approaches into policies and programs. The findings are intended to identify best practices from international experience that will assist the US practitioners and policy makers.

The team co-chaired by Vance Smith, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Transportation along with Bob Arnold, FHWA visited Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in December 2009.

Briefly the major findings are:

  • Host countries and regions with clearly defined and well-understood policy goals were able to achieve their targeted outcomes most effectively.
  • A large-scale demonstration project is a powerful tool for public acceptance, allowing people to experience the benefits of congestion pricing.
  • Thorough planning and performance measurement pays benefits in ensuring achievement of overall goals, managing the pricing program as an element of overall transportation system performance, and directing implementation and operations effectively.
  • Linking the pricing structure to the benefits received by the user contributes to public acceptance and helps to avoid the potential negative impacts from traffic diversion.
  • Public outreach and communications was a key component of the program at every stage: prior to making the implementation decision, during the program design process, as well as during the operational phase.
  • Open-source system designs offer long-term advantages in leveraging market competition to manage costs of implementation and operations, ensure system flexibility and scalability, and establish a foundation for system interoperability.
  • Interoperability among states and countries is recognized as a critical issue that needs to be addressed at high levels.
  • Equity and privacy concerns are addressed by host countries through exemptions, revenue use, technology, and business rules.
  • The urban area pricing projects integrated public transit investments and land use planning in order to manage congestion.

An excellent report and can be found in its entirety here.

Shirley Ybarra is a former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Ms. Ybarra served as Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1998 to 2002, overseeing a budget of $3.2 billion and a staff of 13,000 people. Between 1994 and 1998, Ybarra was Virginia's Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

Ybarra also served as senior policy advisor and special assistant for policy for U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole from 1983 to 1987. In that role, Ybarra managed the transfer and privatization of Dulles and National Airports to the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority.

Ybarra authored Virginia's Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, considered the model public-private partnership legislation in the United States.

In 2001, Ybarra received the American Road and Transportation Builders Association's "Public-Private Ventures Entrepreneur of the Year Award" for her leadership in designing innovative infrastructure financing.

She holds a Master's degree in Economics and a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.