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A C L O S E R L O O K AT T H E R E A L W O R L D 43 FAILED SCHEMES IN PRICING potential as part of a solution to address existing congestion than as a preventive measure.) Stephen Ison Strategic exemptions. To underscore the program's policy objectives and address equity concerns, London's While London's experience with congestion pricing is pricing policy excuses certain residents, alternative fuel typically viewed as a success story, it is important to vehicles, emergency vehicles, vehicles with nine or more pay equal attention to pricing schemes that have not seats, emergency vehicles, and vehicles driven by disabled made it to implementation. Experiences in Hong Kong people from the fee. and Cambridge, United Kingdom, provide two prime Clarity of objectives, with an explicit line drawn to examples. transport demand management. Public perceptions of the depth of the problem and Proper hypothecation, or earmarking, of revenues. A the costs of addressing it played an important role in pledge to dedicate revenues to public transport was a both instances. While people frequently complain about popular choice given the public's widespread perception traffic, often the public as a whole does not think con- of its current financial needs outstripping available gestion levels bad enough to warrant major policy ini- resources. tiatives, particularly when they perceive that the costs of Easily understood technologies. While it may be the initiative will be too high. necessary to refine the fee collection system at a later In addition, many people suspect that congestion pric- date, a pricing system is more likely to be adopted if the ing is aimed at not only financing infrastructure but also initial system is simple and can be explained quickly and paying for general policy objectives. For this reason, sur- clearly to the public at large. veys frequently find that if the respondents are confident Single implementing agency. that revenue will be used for a specific transportation- Charismatic advocate. Obviously, the presence of a related purpose, such as public transport, they are more leader such as London's Mayor Ken Livingstone can be likely to support a congestion pricing initiative. Mistrust key to successful implementation. The case of London is of government, and particularly suspicions that a com- especially interesting, since congestion pricing provided mitment to use revenue for a particular purpose will be the opportunity for a left-of-center politician to seize on overturned in the future, can easily undermine support a market-based proposal early in his term and stake his for any pricing program. In terms of congestion pricing reputation on the proposal's success. in central London, the revenue generated is earmarked Strong presentation. London's pricing advocates for transport-related projects. This is also the case for did an excellent job of engendering trust through open any other authority considering the implementation of a communications, a clear and well-composed presenta- congestion pricing scheme in England and Wales in line tion of the problem and the proposal, and the develop- with the Transport Act (2000). ment of first-rate communication tools, including a Other public concerns, which often extend to political highly effective website. leaders as well, revolve around privacy and the reliability Weak opposition. A final factor working in Lon- of the technology on which the pricing system relies. don's favor was the relative absence of any sustained An examination of London's experience helps illustrate organized opposition to the proposal. conditions that may be necessary, though not sufficient, to move from a proposed system to implementation. Among Some of these conditions are within policy makers' the essential ingredients are the following: and program managers' control, while others cannot be manufactured. Without a clear understanding of those Severity of congestion. In London, speeds had been factors within and beyond their control and how those declining since the 1970s, and in an amount sufficient to factors will bear on ease of implementation, the possibil- make the magnitude of the traffic problem obvious to all ity of replicating London's experience through fortunate road users. (Interestingly, this suggests pricing's greater circumstances and lucky breaks will be remote indeed.