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Positive tolls

Woman orders a taxi from her mobile phone ; téléphone ;

Rewarding motorists’ good behaviour.

The initiative aims to reward users of road infrastructure for its “non-use” during peak hours and thus work towards reducing the intensity of traffic.

An idea from the Netherlands

Traffic congestion is currently a significant barrier to the economic development of large and medium-sized cities, with an average of 40% of time lost on busy roads over a one-hour journey. This lost time represents a significant cost for the community (fuel, working time wasted) and contributes to making regions less attractive. The maintenance costs of these roads, congested in the mornings and evenings, are high. This rush hour congestion has a negative impact a) on quality of life as it increases daily stress, b) on air quality through emissions of harmful gases and microparticles and c) on environmental quality, because of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The analysis of the factors leading to this suburban congestion highlights long-established organisational and societal models and deep-rooted individual behavioural patterns: synchronous morning commutes, concurrence of driving times for individuals and other transportation, the phenomenon of single occupancy car use, longer distance commuting, low use of public transport, door-to-door car journeys, and so on.

Two alternatives are traditionally implemented: 1) an increase in road capacity and public transport and 2) the regulation of traffic using tolls or a tax.

In 2008, a “Spits Mijden” or rush hour avoidance scheme emerged in the Netherlands It aims to reward users of road infrastructure for its “non-use” during peak hours and thus work towards reducing the intensity of traffic. This innovative approach has led to monetary reward schemes for drivers not using their cars during peak hours. Today, the Netherlands is implementing plans to change motorists’ behaviour across various regions. They are subsidised by Europe and supported by the Regions. At the initiative of the “Beter benutten” investment programme (for better use of existing infrastructure), the Dutch government has chosen to invest in the optimisation of use, rather than the construction of new infrastructure.

September, 2016 / Greater Paris project
This solution has been chosen by the “Greater Paris project “ (in partnership with the STIF,  the supervising transport authority for the Île-de-France), within the framework of the 2nd call for projects on the “mobility around the construction sites of Big Paris”. It is a question of making out a will on the ground of the new solutions which allow to reduce the nuisances and the impact of the construction sites of Big Paris Express on the mobility of the users and the local residents of Big Paris. The inverse tolling was held among 71 projects received to raise the “challenge of the Mobility”. Five prize-winners of this call for projects have been selected on September 23rd

The Lille Experiment
To help reduce traffic congestion when entering and leaving Lille and to fight against pollution, Lille Métropole has trialled a mobility ecobonus, inspired by the “positive toll” concept set up by Egis in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The result? According to an initial study, the mobility ecobonus system could reduce road traffic by 5 to 10% at targeted saturation points, reducing the travel time of city-dwellers at rush hour. Wide-scale implementation is planned for 2018.

  • Leila: “It was the push I needed to change my habits! Now I’m more prepared to take public transport and feel more responsible in the way I get around.”
  • Fabien: “I am a big fan of the initiative, which could have extremely positive results. I left after 7.30pm and I’ve pushed back my morning commute […] I’ve ended up saving 30 minutes of time on the road! The experiment was a very pleasant surprise.”
  • Cécile: “When I manage to shift my schedule, I save myself time and stress. At 8pm, the motorway is clear: less fuel consumed, less polluted air.”

How it works

On average, with a minimum reward level of 2.5 euros per avoided or deferred journey, the rate of active participation observed has been 33%. This allows an 8 to 10% reduction in traffic, which is enough to unclog a motorway at rush hour. From a technological point of view, ANPR cameras are used to identify motorists and ensure control of fraud. The technology is reliable and effective, but its use requires some technical precautions (no data retention, anonymity, etc.) and the submission of files to the relevant authorities.
The system, developed in Rotterdam, brings together 12,000 participants. Tested for over five years, the initiative seems to be proving its effectiveness, reducing traffic by between 5 and 10% during peak hours. Thanks to this system, 4100 journeys are now avoided every day in Rotterdam, with an average of 40% participation per day for €3 credit in cash or €3.50 on a transport card.

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