Road space rationing

Road space rationing

Road space rationing (Spanish: "Restricción vehicular"; Portuguese: "Rodízio veicular") is a travel demand management strategy aimed to reduce the negative externalities generated by peak urban travel demand in excess of available supply or road capacity, through artificially restricting demand (vehicle travel) by rationing the scarce common good road capacity during the peak periods. This objective is achieved through restricting access into an urban cordon area or city center based upon the last digits of the license number on pre-established days and during certain periods, usually, the peak hours.

The practical implementation of this policy is common in Latin America, and in many cases, the road rationing has as a main goal the reduction of air pollution, such as the cases of México City, and Santiago, Chile. São Paulo, with a fleet of 6 million vehicles in 2007, is the largest metopolis in the world with such a travel restriction, implemented first in 1996 as measured to mitigate air pollution, and thereafter made permanent in 1997 to relief traffic congestion. More recent implementations in Costa Rica and Honduras have had the objective of reducing oil consumption, due to the high impact this import has on the economy of small countries, and considering the steep increases in oil prices that began in 2003.

Alternative rationing policies

Congestion pricing

Transport economists consider road space rationing a variation of road pricing, and an alternative to congestion pricing, but road space rationing is considered more equitable, as the restrictions force all drivers to reduce auto travel, while congestion pricing restrains less those who can afford paying the congestion charge. Nevertheless, high-income users can always avoid the restrictions by owning a second car. [cite web| author= Victoria Transport Policy Institute| url= |title=Vehicle Restrictions. Limiting Automobile Travel At Certain Times and Places |publisher= TDM Encyclopedia|accessdate=2008-04-09|language= See Equity Impacts section]

Mobility rights or congestion credits

A more recent and acceptable policy on automobile travel restrictions, proposed by transport economists [Cite web | author = Verhoef E, Nijkamp P, Rietveld P | url = | date = 1997 | title = Tradeable permits: their potential in the regulation of road transport externalities | publisher = Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 24(4) 527 – 548 |accessdate=2008-04-11 |language=] to avoid inequality and revenue allocation issues, is to implement a rationing of peak period travel but through revenue-neutral credit-based congestion pricing. This concept is similar to the existing system of emissions trading of carbon credits, proposed by the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse emissions. Metropolitan area or city residents, or the taxpayers, will have the option to use the local government-issued mobility rights or congestion credits for themselves, or to trade or sell them to anyone willing to continue traveling by automobile beyond the personal quota. This trading system will allow direct benefits to be accrued by those users shifting to public transportation or by those reducing their peak-hour travel rather than the government. [Cite web | author = José M. Viegas | url = | date = 2001 | title = Making urban road pricing acceptable and effective: searching for quality and equity in urban mobility | publisher = Transport Policy, Vol 8, Issue 4, October 2001, pp. 289-294 |accessdate=2008-04-11 |language=] [Cite web | author = Kara M. Kockelman and Sukumar Kalmanje | url = | date = 2005 | title = Credit-based congestion pricing: a policy proposal and the public’s response| publisher = Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 39, Issues 7-9, August-November 2005, pp. 671-690 |accessdate=2008-04-11 |language=]

Applications of road space rationing

Road space rationing based on license numbers has been implemented in cities such as Athens (1982), [cite web| url= |title=LEDA Measure: License plate based traffic restrictions, Athens, Greece |publisher= LEDA database|accessdate=2008-04-09|language= ] Santiago (1986 and extended 2001), Chile, México City (1989), São Paulo (1997), Bogotá (1998), Colombia, La Paz (2003) [cite web| url= |title= Los choferes públicos acataron la restricción| author= | date=2003-01-07 | publisher= La Prensa | accessdate=2008-04-09 | language=Spanish ] , Bolivia, San José (2005), [cite web| url= |title=Hoy empieza restricción para autos en centro de San José | author= Ángela Ávalos | date=2005-08-03 | publisher= La Nación | accessdate=2008-04-08 | language=Spanish] [cite web| url= |title= Evaluarán restricción vehicular en capital | author= Mercedes Agüero | date=2006-04-12 | publisher= La Nación | accessdate=2008-04-08 | language=Spanish ] Costa Rica, and countrywide in Honduras (2008) [cite web| url= |title= Unos 39.000 vehículos dejan de circular en Honduras para ahorrar petróleo | author= | date= 2007-04-07| publisher= La Nación | accessdate=2008-04-09 | language=Spanish ] . All these cities restrain a percentage of vehicles every weekday during rush hours or for the entire day. When the restriction is based in two digits a theoretical 20% reduction of traffic is expected. Cities with serious air quality problems, such as México City and Santiago use more digits to achieve greater reductions in air pollution, and even the prohibition can be for more than one day a week.

Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, proposed to impose a complete ban on motor vehicles in the city's inner districts, with exemptions only for residents, businesses, and the disabled, as a three-part plan to implement during a seven year period. [cite news
first = Jon
last = Henley
title = Paris drive to cut traffic in centre by 75%
url =
work = The Guardian
publisher = Guardian Media Group
location = London
date = 2005-03-15
] This proposal was made in 2005, in the context of Paris' bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics [cite news
first = Charles
last = Bremner
title = Paris bans cars to make way for central pedestrian zone
url =
publisher = Times Online
location = London
date = 2005-03-15
] which ended up being won by London.

During the discussions regarding the proposal to introduce congestion pricing in New York, the commission created in 2007 by the New York State Legislature to evaluate other traffic relief options, considered road space rationing based on license plates as an alternative to congestion pricing. [Cite web | author = William Neuman | url=|date = 2008-01-25 | title = Traffic Panel Members Expecto to Endorse Fees on Cars | publisher = The New York Times|accessdate=2008-04-07] As of April 2008, the proposal is stalled as the legislature decided not to vote the proposed plan. [Cite web | url= |author= Nicholas Confessore |date=2008-04-08 | title=$8 Traffic Fee for Manhattan Gets Nowhere | pubisher = The New York Times | accessdate = 2008-04-08 | language = ]

Proposed restrictions during next Summer Olympics

Beijing 2008

On July 20, 2008, Beijing implemented a temporary road space rationing based on plate numbers in order to significantly improve air quality in the city during the 2008 Summer Olympics. [cite news| url=|title=Car restrictions begin in Beijing | author= | date=2008-07-20 | publisher= BBC News | accessdate=2008-07-25 | language= ] [cite news| url=|title=Traffic Beijing Stops Construction for Olympics | author= Andrew Jacobs | date=2008-04-14 | publisher= New York Times | accessdate=2008-04-14 | language= ] Enforcement is being made with automated traffic surveillance network. The rationing will be in effect for two months, between July 20 to September 20, as the Olympics will be followed by the Paralympics from September 6 until 17. cite news| url= |title=Beijing sets restrictions on cars during Olympics | author= Stephen Wade | date=2008-06-20 | publisher=National Examiner | accessdate=2008-06-23 | language= ] The restrictions on car use will be in place on alternate days depending on the plates ending in odd or even numbers. This measure is expected to take 45% of the 3.3 million car fleet off the streets. In addition, 300,000 heavy polluting vehicles were banned from July 1, [cite news| url= |title= Beijing has first workday under car restrictions| author=Anita Chang | date=2008-07-21 | publisher= The Washington Post | accessdate=2008-07-25 | language= ] and the plan also prohibits access to most vehicles coming from outside Beijing. Authorities decided to compensate car owners for the inconvenience, by exempting them from payment of vehicle taxes for three months. [cite news| url= |title=Beijing to launch Olympic 'odd-even' car ban | author= Reuters | date=2008-06-23 | publisher=ABC news | accessdate=2008-06-23 | language= ]

A pilot test was conducted in August 2007 for four days, restricting driving for a third of Beijing's fleet, some 1.3 million vehicles. [cite web| url= |title= Beijing To Test Plan to Cut Cars: Measure Intended For '08 Olympics | author= Edward Cody | date=2007-08-11 | publisher= Washington Post | accessdate=2008-04-08 | language= ] A 40% daily reduction of vehicle emissions was reported. [cite web| url= |title= Pequim vai adotar rodízio de veículos durante os Jogos | author= | date=2008-03-28 | publisher=Agencia Xinhua | accessdate=2008-04-08 | language=Portuguese] A previous test carried out in November 2006 during the Sino-African Summit show reductions of 40% in NOx auto emissions. [cite web| url= |title=Traffic restrictions associated with the Sino-African summit: Reductions of NOx detected from space | author= Yuxuan Wang, Michael B. McElroy, et al. | year=2007 | publisher= Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34 | accessdate=2008-04-08 | language= ]

London 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympics organization, with support from the Mayor of London office, [cite web| url= |title=The 2012 Olympic Games and the environment|publisher=Mayor of London official website|date=|accessdate=2008-04-10|language= ] announced in 2007 that they are planning auto exclusion zones around all venues, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Glasgow and Cardiff. [cite web| url=,1518,513092,00.html |title=Car-Free Travel: London Olympic Organizers Hope to Reform Britain |publisher= Spiegel ONLINE|date=2007-10-23|accessdate=2008-04-10|language= ] London authorities hope this measure will work as an experiment to change the public's travel behavior, allowing thereafter a shift from automobile to mass transit or bicycling. This severe policy has been publized as the "First Car-free Olympics". During the peak events it is expected a crowd of 800,000 people. Those attending will have to travel by public transport, mainly through the Underground, bicycle or traveling on foot. [cite web| url= |title=London 2012 Olympics the first to be "car-free" |publisher= AutoBlogGreen|date=2007-10-31|accessdate=2008-04-10|language= ]

See also

* Common good (economics)
* Commons dilemma
* Congestion pricing
* Externalities
* Public good
* Rationing
* Road pricing
* Tragedy of the Commons


External links

* [ Online TDM Encyclopedia - Vehicle restrictions]

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