After implementation of the congestion charge in London, the number of vehicles entering the charging zone decreased by 25 percent, travel speeds increased by 30 percent, trip times decreased by 14 percent, and traffic delays plummeted by 25 percent.

London’s experience with congestion pricing.

London,United Kingdom

Summary Information

To combat congestion or generate new revenue, road pricing projects have been implemented in several countries outside the United States, including Germany, Singapore, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. A scan team from the United States traveled to Europe and Asia to meet with transportation officials involved in implementation of road pricing programs and to learn firsthand about their approaches and practices. The scan tour was sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NHCRP). The 10 members of the multidisciplinary scan team included transportation professionals from four State departments of transportation (DOT), one regional transportation agency, FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and private industry. Based on observations made by the scan team, key project elements and benefits realized in the form of increased mobility and reduced emissions are reported below.


In 2003, London launched a bold initiative to designate a congestion charging zone in central London and charge vehicles to travel within the 8-square-mile (20.7-square-kilometer) area. In 2007, the charging area was doubled in size with a western extension. However, because of changes in mayoral leadership in 2008 and public consultation, the western extension was scheduled to be repealed in 2010. Charging on the Western extension ended in late December 2010.

Before implementation of the London congestion charge, it was estimated that 40 percent of England’s congestion was in greater London, with central London being the most congested. Average all-day speeds were less than 9 miles per hour (mi/h) (14.4 kilometers per hour (km/h)) in central London. Delays were costing people and businesses £4 million to £6 million (US$7 million to US$10 million) per week in time and money. Thus, the objective of the congestion charge was to reduce traffic, improve travel times for buses, generate new revenues for public transit, and enhance the quality of life in central London.

The flat weekday charge was set at £5 (US$10.50) initially and raised to £8 (US$13) in August 2005. The charge is in effect on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Various exemptions and discounts are allowed, including a 90 percent discount for residents living in the pricing zone. Buses, taxis, emergency vehicles, hybrid cars, and motorcycles are exempt as well.

  • After implementation of the London congestion charge, the number of vehicles (four or more wheels) entering the charging zone decreased by 25 percent, or 70,000 fewer vehicles per day, and has remained constant.
  • The amount of circulating traffic fell by 15 percent after the first year of implementation.
  • Travel speeds increased by 30 percent,
  • Trip times decreased by 14 percent
  • Traffic delays plummeted by 25 percent in the charging zone.
  • Transport for London (TfL) reported an average of 70,000 fewer daily vehicle trips than in the year before the congestion charge. Of those reduced trips, an estimated 50 to 60 percent shifted to transit, 20 to 30 percent of the trips were eliminated, and 15 to 25 percent involved carpooling.

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Reducing Congestion and Funding Transportation Using Road Pricing In Europe and Singapore

Author: Robert Arnold, Vance C. Smith, John Q. Doan, Rodney N. Barry, Jayme L. Blakesley, Patrick T. DeCorla-Souza, Mark F. Muriello, Gummada N. Murthy, Patty K. Rubstello, Nick A. Thompson

Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

Source Date: 12/01/2010



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Benefits From This Source

After implementation of the congestion charge in London, the number of vehicles entering the charging zone decreased by 25 percent, travel speeds increased by 30 percent, trip times decreased by 14 percent, and traffic delays plummeted by 25 percent.

In Germany, vehicle-miles traveled using cleaner trucks (Euro 4 and 5) rose 60 percent from 2 percent in 2005 to over 62 percent in 2009 because of the nationwide heavy-goods-vehicle tolling program.

In Singapore, the Electronic Road Pricing program has enabled maintaining target speeds of 45 to 65 kilometers per hour on expressways and 20 to 30 kilometers per hour on arterials.

The Stockholm congestion tax project reduced traffic congestion by 20 percent and vehicle emissions by 10 to 14 percent in the Central Business District.

Lessons From This Source

Be prepared to face the opportunities and challenges posed by political timetables, project deadlines, as well as pricing-equity issues for road pricing procurement and implementation.

Beware that schedule and costs of road pricing projects are affected by various factors including legislative outcomes, clarity and specificity of scope, and contracting methods.

Consider advantages of open-source designs and beware of legal challenges in road pricing systems procurement.

Consider stakeholder outreach and education, transport modes that offer an alternative to driving, performance measurement, and area geography with high importance in the planning phase for road pricing programs.

Create performance standards for operational effectiveness of a pricing program, define business rules for back-office operations, and refine operations practices based on needs.

Define clear goals and pay attention to key institutional and technical factors for successful implementation of road pricing programs.

Develop a statutory and legal framework for as a foundational step for levying road pricing fees and utilizing revenues.

Develop public outreach programs based on the cultural and political context of the project location and provide clear, salient, and timely messages about the purpose and benefits of congestion pricing.

Enforce congestion toll collection and create integration linkages between pricing system and motor vehicle registries to process violations.

For successful implementation of a road pricing program, strive for simplicity in policy goals and strong championing of the program by the executive and legislative leaders.

Understand that while the viability of pricing programs is impacted by political actions, pricing signal is a potential tool for developing a sustainable transportation system.

Use business and functional requirements to guide technology selection for a road pricing program and understand that the technology selected initially evolves over time.

Goal Areas


Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


None defined

Benefit ID: 2011-00762