Do cities want congestion charging? The technology is in our hands
A recent project aimed at making New Yorkers pay a daily toll to enter the city that never sleeps sparked excitement and started discussions worldwide about the price we would and/or should pay in order to burn less fuel in congestions and help our children breathe cleaner air.
A campaign launched by non-profit advocacy firm Tri-State Transportation Campaign want New York City to implement congestion pricing on their roadways. If implemented, drivers on some of the busiest roads in Manhattan during peak hours would have to pay a surcharge; roads that usually are free would become toll roads.
First adopted by Singapore in 1975, congestion pricing has slowly become a go-to solution for cities plagued by heavy traffic, and has since been successfully adopted in Stockholm, London and Milan.
It is also an ever-recurring idea in Budapest, but the different Mayors and members of the political establishment have never had the will to implement the unpopular measure.
Does congestion pricing actually work? What technology is available to implement it? Find out from the second part of the article.
Research on the impacts of congestion charging
Whether or not unpopular, congestion pricing has been shown to ease traffic, make highways flow faster and free up side streets, according to urban planning researchers of the UCLA.
Even more importantly, the UCLA report underlines that vehicles stuck in a gridlock emit more pollutants than free flowing traffic. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, after congestion pricing became the law of the land in Stockholm, childhood asthma cases decreased by nearly 50 percent.
Opponents of congestion charging
Besides the upsides, there are some downsides of course, and being unpopular does not count. But critics say that – mostly in heavily taxed societies – the new toll is nothing but a new form of tax, and that it leads to further deepening of already existing inequalities. Another criticism is that it won’t reduce congestion, as commuters are forced to come to the city and will just build in the toll in their budget, making cuts in other spending departments.
Finally, as all uniformly applied fee or tax, the congestion toll takes a bigger percentage of the income of lower-income drivers, leading to social frictions.
The Big Apple as example
However New York decides, it will be a trend-setter for many cities around the world. If they implement it, and implement it with success, then it could even lead to a domino-effect, with more and more followers worldwide. On the other hand, if it fails, other cities will be more reluctant to follow suit – without the example of the Big Apple.
Vehicle identification – license plate recognition
Whatever the outcome of the New York case will be, it is certain that the trend is for the congestion pricing to reach more and more agglomerations. And if they do, or rather when they do, they will undoubtedly need a system that will be able to identify the cars permitted to enter and those that are kept out of the inner circles.
Since each and every vehicle is equipped with a license plate, no new technology is required to implement such a measure.
In effect, TrafficSpot is a single-gantry, multilane site control system. Designed for automatic traffic monitoring with multiple sensors, it gathers a wide range of data.
GDS stands for Globessey® Data Server: in simple terms, it is a software that makes massive amounts of traffic data easily accessible. In a sense, it is an off-the-shelf product: easier and more economical to buy than to develop your own.