Accessibility and Regional Economic Impacts of Road Pricing Schemes for the Netherlands

Accessibility and Regional Economic Impacts of Road Pricing Schemes for the Netherlands


H D Hilbers, M Thissen, F Vernooij, Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research, NL


Road pricing means less congestion but higher travel costs. The impact on accessibility and economic development varies between regions and type of road user. We show this using a transport model and a regional applied general equilibrium model.


Road pricing is a promising instrument for reducing congestion in road transport. Transport models predict major reduction of road congestion and, based on the travel time savings, positive economic benefits are expected. However, accessibility may improve in terms of travel time but can decrease in terms of generalised costs. Moreover, benefits and costs are unequally distributed over both geographical locations and income groups. Where, when and for whom will the accessibility really be improved and what are the indirect economic effects of changes in generalised costs for product and labour markets?

In this paper we analyse the accessibility impacts of three different road pricing schemes for the Netherlands. We analyse how road use, travel times, accessibility and regional economic development will be influenced. We investigate a flat kilometre charge, a congestion charge on heavily used links during peak hours, and the congestion charge combined with additional infrastructure. We use a transport model (SMART, improved with a multi user class assignment and a enlargement of the number of trip purposes and user groups) for the traffic implications and a regional applied general equilibrium model (RAEM) to estimate regional economic impacts.

First we show the impact of road pricing on road use. Social and recreational travel and commuting is reduced, business travel and freight transport benefit. There will be some overflow towards public transport but the main impact is a change of trip length. The impact differs between road pricing scheme, period and congestion level. On busy roads the impact of the flat charge is limited because a reduction of congestion attracts new traffic. It reduces road use most on non busy roads. The congestion charges has, because it is only used on busy roads during peak hours, a smaller impacts on total car use but reduces congestion much more. The rerouting towards uncharged roads is limited. On these roads usage is reduced and speed goes up also.

In a second step we analyse the impact on accessibility . The changes in travel times and travel costs changes the generalised costs and thereby the economic accessibility. This accessibility is measured as the number of destinations that can be reached within acceptable generalized cost range. The impact is positive when the reduction of travel time is valued higher than the increased travel costs. We show how the impact differs for different trip purposes, groups, regions and type of locations.

The third step is the impact on regional economic development. We estimate the direct economic benefits but also analyze how the changes in generalized cost for commuting and freight transport may influence regional economic development via New Economic Geography based agglomeration economies and changes in the spatial match on the labour market. These indirect effects of road pricing have often an opposite sign than the direct effects and reduce the overall welfare benefits of road pricing. Moreover they change the regional economic development of the country. We present the spatial economic distributional effects of road pricing, the intergroup distributional effect and how indirect effects reduce national economic development and national welfare effects.


Association for European Transport