Acceptability and Political Coordination of Road User Charges

Acceptability and Political Coordination of Road User Charges


J Westin, J Franklin, Royal Institute of Technology, SE; S Proost, K.U.Leuven, BE; S Grahn-Voorneveld, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, SE


Since a road user charge often affect large geographical areas, political feasibility depends on obtaining acceptability from several affected jurisdictions. Can coordination among multiple jurisdictions in a transport network increase acceptability?


Introducing a road user charge in a transport network will in many situations not only have an effect on residents and firms belonging to the political entity who introduced the toll, but also neighboring geographical areas. When new toll systems are implemented, political feasibility therefore often depends on obtaining a critical level of acceptability from several affected jurisdictions. In this project, we want to examine if coordination of road user charges among different jurisdictions in a transport network leads to more acceptability or if it subverts it?

Previous studies have analyzed potential welfare effects of cooperation among neighboring jurisdictions. Here we focus on how acceptability and horizontal equity at different geographical levels (local/regional/national/European) depend on the coordination among political entities that may or may not overlap each other.

A road user charge can be implemented for many reasons. One reason could be to decrease traffic volumes in order to reduce congestion or environmental externalities. Another reason could be to provide the owner of the infrastructure with a source of revenues to, for instance, finance new (or the present) infrastructure investments. Road user charges can therefore be a way for a region both to allow small actors to co-finance new infrastructure, and to motivate the state to contribute with the rest.

What happens when different political entities try to maximize the acceptance among their voters for their particular road user charge design? Will increased coordination also increase the acceptance of neighboring areas? Does the acceptance of a policy (measured as the proportion of winners) differ from its total welfare?

These research questions are analyzed using model simulations of hypothetical toll policies in real-world settings. Using case study simulations, we provide new insights into how both toll policies themselves and regulations for coordination between neighboring political entities can be designed so that they increase the likelihood that tolls are accepted.


Association for European Transport