Urban Vehicle Congestion Pricing: A Review

Document Type : Review paper


1 Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139 USA

2 Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 USA


Drivers in urban neighborhoods who cruise streets, seeking inexpensive on-street parking create a significant fraction of measured traffic congestion. The solution to this problem is to reduce the total traffic volume including cruising traffic by implementing a congestion pricing scheme: the imposition of a usage fee on a limited-capacity resource during times of high demand. We review the history of two alternatives for implementing congestion pricing scheme: road pricing (RP), which involves cordoning off a section of the center city and imposing a fee on all vehicles that enter it; and parking pricing (PP), which increases the costs of on-street and perhaps off-street parking. PP is needed in many environments where a significant fraction of drivers are simply cruising, looking for inexpensive on-street parking. In this paper, we propose a simple method to estimate the number of cruising drivers and the optimal parking price. Our survey in Boston shows that the number of cruising vehicles reaches 10-20% of the total number of parking spaces during peak hours and the required congestion charge (CC) for onstreet parking is at least about $1/ hour.


Main Subjects

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Volume 3, Issue 4 - Serial Number 4
February 2010
Pages 227-242
  • Receive Date: 01 March 2009
  • Revise Date: 01 September 2009
  • Accept Date: 01 March 2010
  • First Publish Date: 01 March 2010