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Again & again on congestion pricing

This Age journalist complains about the $18 cost of his son’s cross town journeys to visit his girlfriend. His diagnosis of the problem is, however, wrong. The costs of using CityLink in Melbourne are based on guaranteeing a secure profit for Transurban. The objective is cost-recovery with a margin. The more sensible reason for road […]

Congestion Pricing & Infrastructure Australia (amended repost)

I have been glancing through the 3-part report by Infrastructure Australia (a summary here) on Australia’s infrastructure needs over coming decades. I was mainly interested in the transport sector and proposals that looked – on casual reading of the press – like yet another case for user charges (congestion charging and heavy vehicle charging for […]

Road pricing yet again, & again & again….

The Harper Competition Review has again raised the case for road pricing. It is frustrating to me that after 20 years of working in this area many economists don’t get the economic basis for road pricing right. The article in The Australian today is a case in point. Roads are not priced for user pays […]

Price discrimination & congestion pricing

I have long advocated congestion pricing of urban roads. The idea is to charge people the short-run marginal cost of making journeys to redirect travel plans away from the morning and afternoon peak periods towards less congested periods. This means that the most valued journeys will occur at peak periods and the less valued journeys […]

Congestion pricing again (& again, again,….)

Its back in the news with Ken Henry endorsing it at an ANU meeting yesterday and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell predictably opposing it on the grounds that public transport is not adequate to cope with induced increases in demand rather than the more truthful grounds that he is a lazy hypocrite whose conservatism basically involves […]

Is it really time to impose congestion charges?

These are some notes I prepared for the SMART Workshop on “Infrastructure economics and policy: new tools for new problems” that was organised by Henry Ergas and held last Thursday and Friday at the University of Wollongong. My endorsement of Ken Henry’s urging a year nor so ago for a more responsible […]

Tax Forum

I have been attending the Tax Forum in Canberra for the past two days. I made a submission to this Forum on congestion pricing on roads and I made a presentation based on this submission in the Environmental and Social Taxes session. To be honest this was the only session at the Forum where I […]

Priorities for Reforming Taxes in the Road Transport Sector

Australia is a geographically large country with a dispersed though highly urbanised population. This creates intrinsically difficult – ‘tyranny of distance’ – transportation issues. Australia relies heavily on trucking as a means of transporting raw materials to population centres and ports but also experiences significant congestion in its capital cities. Traffic accident […]

Invitation to Tax Summit

I always think it crass of people to ask to get invited to a party. In my life I have not received invitations on more than a few occasions so that generally, these days, I am miffed only momentarily. But I was crass enough* to seek an invitation to the Government’s October Tax Summit and, […]

Daft Frankston bypass project

In April 2009 I suggested that the idea of paying $750 million to build an unpriced linear feeder road that would feed into Melbourne’s traffic congestion and encourage urban sprawl was ill-advised. Today’s Age confirms this view in a scathing report from Victoria’s Auditor General. With inflation and a cost blowout of 45% from the […]

Peak load train pricing

I had a business breakfast in Melbourne city this morning and was rewarded with a free train trip to the city with the ‘early bird’ fare arrangements on offer. This provides free travel if you leave early and arrive in Melbourne city before 7-00am. Apart from saving a few dollars it gave me a pleasant […]

Beijing traffic planning revisited

I wrote a brief note earlier this year on how Beijing should resolve its traffic problems. The interesting news over the past few days is that the Beijing administration has announced a whole set of anti-traffic congestion policies. The Vice-Mayor of Beijing in charge of traffic ‘resigned’ the day the measures were introduced and is […]

Parking economics revisited

One of the interesting and influential figures I met recently in Paris was Professor Donald Shoup from the University of California, Los Angeles – I have a great shot of him iding a (rented) Velib bike near a well-known Parisian tourist attraction. Shoup is one of the world’s experts on the economics of […]

Daft proposals for Melbourne’s transport woes

The Sunday Age today presents a proposed ‘transport revolution’ for Melbourne prepared by Monash University’s Professor Graham Currie – a ‘transport expert’. The plan recognizes that expanding road supply is not a major sensible option in the face of Melbourne’s ballooning congestion problems and instead argues for creating a ‘road hierarchy’ that gives pedestrians, cars, […]

Practical congestion pricing

I am attending an OECD meeting on ‘Implementing Congestion Pricing’. There are some excellent papers here – the one by K-K. Chin on the Singapore experience was particularly good but presentations on the Stockholm, Oslo and proposed Dutch schemes also useful. Generally, the International Transport Forum website is useful for transport planners.

A few of […]

Industry views on road user charges

Another retrieved post-hacking post. A letter published in AFR on January 16.


Congestion pricing again & again

The Victorian Government have again acted to close off debate on the possibilities for road pricing in Melbourne. I understand that most politicians are spineless but allowing the debate to develop on this issue while remaining nominally separate from it would not have hurt these politicians much. I presented my views on these issues with […]

Are excises on fuel too high?

This provocative post by Gary Becker argues that the low taxes on US petrol completely internalise the external costs of petrol consumption in terms of the global warming and foreign oil dependence externalities imposed on the US.  On this basis, Australian excises on petrol – much higher than US excises – would seem to be on […]

Fuel price surrogates for congestion pricing

New York politics failed to agree to introduce congestion taxes to deal with traffic congestion. But higher fuel prices are delivering desired outcomes anyway. This is true in New York and, of course, in all major cities along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Fuel tax increases to deal with congestion are generally ill-advised because they […]

Sydney’s traffic woes

Correspondent Conrad referred me to this interesting newspaper account of an academic report on Sydney’s traffic woes. The suggestion is that, without congestion pricing, Sydney would need to construct the equivalent of 14 Lane Cove tunnels annually just to stabilise traffic congestion at current levels.

These claims seem a bit exaggerated. Crippling congestion will itself […]