Ebook: The Impacts of Road Pricing on Businesses
Road pricing is the name given to a variety of systems which charge road users a fee to mitigate the social costs of using their vehicles. The charges can be introduced to alleviate the costs of delays caused by congestion, environmental problems and the health costs resulting from pollution and accidents. But although the idea of road pricing has been around for many decades, it can prove difficult to implement due to a variety of social and political concerns. This book focuses on the institutional challenges to the implementation of road pricing policies by examining two cases: the potential impacts of road pricing on businesses and freight transport in the Netherlands and the implications of the London (UK) congestion charge for companies in key economic sectors. Distance-based road pricing has been the subject of a heated political debate in the Netherlands, and the study discusses the use of different theoretical frameworks to understand how its introduction might affect commercial decisions and relationships. This conceptual framework is adapted and applied in the second part of the book to conduct a survey of businesses in a number of economic sectors in London, and is especially of interest to other cities considering the introduction of road pricing in the future. Using institutional analysis, a paradigm not often employed before in studies of road pricing, this book seeks practical and theoretical answers to the subject, and will be of value and interest to all those involved in addressing the growing problems of road traffic congestion worldwide.
From the time I began working on the topic of road pricing, developments in the field and worldwide attention to the policy have grown immensely. It has been extremely exciting and motivating to follow recent proposals for implementing the policy in several cities and regions around the world. My hope is that these papers will contribute to improving theory and practice in the field.
The papers in this book are a section of my Ph.D. dissertation, which has been a delight to work on, and I owe thanks to many people who made it possible. I have been fortunate in having an excellent committee of distinguished faculty members. First of all I thank Prof. Ralph Gakenheimer, my advisor at MIT, with whom I have had the pleasure and privilege of working for over six years. Ralph has been a wonderful mentor and I have learned from him most of what I know as a researcher and practitioner of transportation policy. I am grateful for the constant encouragement and support he has provided. He has always had a unique ability to view the big picture of my research and draw my attention to the most significant questions, giving invaluable feedback on all that I wrote.
I am also grateful to Prof. Karen R. Polenske, whose exceptional standards of research and writing have been an inspiration for me in my own work. It was through Karen's classes in regional economic development that I first became interested in regional and urban economics and in broadening the scope of my research in transportation policy. The insights I gained from those classes made me interested in studying the crucial links between freight transportation and the regional economy by way of product supply chains.
I thank Prof. Joseph M. Sussman at MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) for his interest in my topic and his encouragement. I have had some excellent classes with Joe and it was in his class on Intelligent Transportation Systems that I first explored the idea of congestion pricing several years ago. In my time at CTL, I was fortunate to interact with Fred Salvucci whose classes I enjoyed immensely and from whom I learned much about the politics of implementing sustainable transportation policy.
In MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning where I spent several years, I am grateful to Prof. Larry Vale who facilitated my initial contact with the Delft University of Technology and helped me obtain funding for my research. Financial support for my dissertation was provided by the Integrated Program on Urban, Regional and Global Air Pollution at MIT and two Dutch research programs, “Next Generation Infrastructures” and “Innovative Land Use”.
My research, conducted across three countries, would not have been possible without the generous support facilitated by Prof. Hugo Priemus of the Delft University of Technology (DUT) in the Netherlands. I am deeply grateful to Hugo for his faith in fledgling ideas I proposed early in the dissertation process and for his valuable advice throughout. Through Hugo, I came into contact with people at DUT who provided a research base while I stayed there for two extended periods in 2007. Prof. Bert van Wee in the Transport Policy and Logistics Organization group at the Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management, was instrumental in the development and early conceptualization of my papers, as well as in giving insightful comments as I neared the end of my work. I learned much from him about maintaining the highest standards of rigor in the research process. I am also grateful to Odette van de Riet and Diana Vonk Noordegraaf at DUT for valuable brainstorming discussions about my research. My fieldwork in the Netherlands would not have been possible without support from the Dutch Institute of Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and Diana's significant help in organizing and conducting the interviews. Thanks to Trudie Stoute-van de Garde for making sure I always had all I needed in Delft, and to all the people I interviewed at firms in Rotterdam for their time and interest in my research. In London, I thank Mark Pragnell at the Center for Economic and Business Research, James Ford at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nick Winch at the Federation of Small Businesses, and Minakshi Roy at the Confederation of British Industry for their valuable feedback on my survey questionnaire and for providing useful reference material. I also thank ComRes for meeting the many demands of an academic in conducting rigorous survey research.
For moving these papers along toward publication, I am grateful to Mark Eligh and his team at Delft University Press. After over two decades of debate, in November 2009, the Dutch government has finally passed a Bill establishing the details of a distance-based road pricing scheme to replace the current system of road taxes. The new government that will be formed after the elections of June 2010 will be responsible for the implementation of this scheme. This publication is therefore, very timely.
My deepest gratitude is to my family for their unwavering love and support in all ways. This dissertation is dedicated to my beautiful mother Shashi Mahendra, whose strength and wisdom I can only aspire to have, and to the loving memory of my father Balkrishan Mahendra. I am also grateful to my brother Mohit and sister Nidhi for their strong encouragement. They have always set high standards for me to follow.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks go to Bala, my husband, for being not only my most wonderful and supportive friend, but also my best critic and the sounding board for all my ideas – as silly or as profound as they may be. The challenge of completing this dissertation was made easier with his love, patience, and experience of doing the Ph.D. before me. While preparing these papers for publication, I am also thrilled to have my four-month old son, Vivaan, become a part of our lives.
As the author, I bear responsibility for all errors and for the quality of this work.
Anjali Mahendra, May, 2010