The findings of a study on road congestion pricing prepared by transportation specialists CPCS (Canadian Pacific Consulting Services) will be discussed for the first time on March 28 at a road user fee symposium organized by the Healthy Transportation Coalition. The study, commissioned by Councillors Chernushenko, Leiper, McKenney and Nussbaum, looked at specific congestion pricing tools that would help reduce traffic congestion and increase transit ridership. The study modelled four scenarios to achieve these objectives and concluded that raising the cost of parking would likely be the most cost-effective congestion pricing tool.
The report, now available here, explores four Ottawa-specific options to encourage transit ridership and increase the economic sustainability of the City’s recent LRT investments, including highway tolls, “cordon” charges (a toll to enter downtown), parking rate changes and an increase in the gas tax.
The report concludes that while a cordon charge to enter the Ottawa central area could be more effective at accomplishing the stated objectives, the implementation costs given today’s technology would make it impractical. Tolling the highways was evaluated to be less effective given the possibility of leakage onto parallel arterial roads and the inability to address north-south traffic. The study notes important jurisdictional and other challenges regarding the feasibility of raising the gas tax and concludes that focussing on parking charges would be more useful in addressing congestion and increasing transit ridership. Although high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes were not examined in detail, the report suggests their feasibility could increase in light of provincial highway expansion plans.
The report’s lead author, CPCS’ Vijay Gill will be one of several speakers at the March 28 event Road User Fees: Key to Sustainable Urban Transportation (click here for details), along with City Council Environment and Climate Protection Committee Chair David Chernushenko.
“Managing congestion using pricing tools is increasingly recognized by cities worldwide as a way to increase transit ridership, lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and address commuting frustration” says Chernushenko. “Our goal in commissioning this research and analysis from CPCS is to contribute to an ongoing conversation about how to best to encourage sustainable transportation and support our significant investment in LRT. This is a very important discussion for Ottawa to have.”