We’ve had the pleasure of attending the interesting event by the Shlomo Schmeltzer Institute for Smart Transportation at the Tel Aviv University on the topic of congestion charges.
As opposed to toll roads, that have been around since the days of ancient Babylon, which were implemented to recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance, the aim of this tax is to influence people’s behavior, and use it to moderate traffic.
It was great seeing how different people from different academic disciplines (math, economics, engineering), different positions (central government, local government, NGOs, academia, startups and multinationals) and holding different political views (social democrats and neo-liberals) perceive this topic.
Most interesting was to witness that despite the inherent disagreements between them, mostly around the motivations, desired outcomes, methods of implementation and justifications around congestion charges, all were in agreement that grossing up the cost of utilization of the road or parking into the fees charged from users, is probably a better way to distribute a scarce resource, compared to the alternative of queueing.
It might be difficult to implement, especially when citizens still own cars, which they use on the infrastructure (roads, parking spots, traffic lights, etc.), for which they pay via municipal taxes. However, when we start thinking of cars as part of that same infrastructure that provides us the service of mobility, just like electricity for example, this opens the opportunity to also change the business model and include the payment for the actual usage of the road, as part of the total price of the service.
In case you understand hebrew, and have 3 hours to spare, click here for the video: https://www.facebook.com/TAU4SmarTransportation/videos/629752517435680/