A new study by Deloitte recommends road user pricing as an effective approach to deal with the gridlocked traffic facing many communities in the US.
An Urban Mobility Report estimated that in the US in 2007, congestion caused 4.2 billion hours of travel delay and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, at a total cost of $78.2bn.
The Deloitte study recommends the implementation of road user pricing to help reduce congestion, raise necessary funds for infrastructure improvements and reduce the environmental impact of congested roads.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) estimates that approximately 18% of the more than 912,000 miles of America's roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition, and approximately 27% of the nearly 594,000 US bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Public sector transportation industry leader for Deloitte, Vince Loose said that road user pricing is a very practical way to address our congestion problems.
"Charging drivers for road use can be a win-win-win: it can help reduce congestion, raise money for transportation infrastructure and improve the environment," Loose said.
There are several different ways of implementing road user pricing, including pricing on a single corridor, pricing areas within dense urban environments during peak travel and developing variable pricing for parking.
The Deloitte study highlights key factors that must be considered when selecting a road user pricing programme: Market willingness to adopt new schemes, existing legislative or legal frameworks, available technology and the possibility of developing supplemental programmes to pricing, such as improved public transit or alternative commuting.
The US Department of Transportation has strongly promoted the implementation of road user pricing in recent years and has implemented programmes such as the Urban Partnership Agreement and Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program to encourage jurisdictions to consider road user pricing.
By Daniel Garrun