Road-user rewards proposed


A road-user reward system aimed at reducing congestion has been advocated by a leading transport academic in Sydney

Road-user rewards proposed
User-paid proposal

By Sean Muir | July 16, 2012

A
transport
model that rewards
instead of charging road users for infrastructure has
gained
support at a transport seminar in Sydney.

At
the recent Leading Edge Seminar in Sydney, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies transport professor Michiel Bliemer presented
a reward-based system that
offers drivers ‘credit’ for not driving in peak periods.

Bliemer, a current academic at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney,
has a PhD in transport planning and traffic engineering and
more than 200 published scientific articles.

Bliemer
gave
the Leading Edge presentation on network modelling just one week before the July 13 release of Infrastructure Australia’s fourth annual report, which calls for more road-user charging.

"We all know that distance-based charging is a good thing – so whenever you drive more you pay more, which is a fair system – but we should offer incentives to make a change," Bliemer says.

"If you have a fixed tolling strategy, you cannot deviate your departure time, you cannot change, for example, driving in different time periods to avoid the toll.

"So to reduce congestion, the optimal toll would be to offer alternatives.

"Only charge during the peak periods and do not charge anything during the non-peak periods."

Bliemer went further to say
a
reward-based
system had been successfully trialled in the Netherlands, with about 50 percent of participants changing their driving behaviour by avoiding peak-hour traffic and taking different routes.

Under the scheme, participants, whose cars are equipped with GPS devices, are paid four to six dollars each time they avoid the morning peak traffic.

"So they could earn about $115 a month," Bliemer says.

"They could travel earlier, later or take public transport on a different route, as long as we did not see them on that corridor during rush hours.

"And it works, we get people off the road and congestion can disappear from those roads."

But Bliemer says the scheme may be too cost prohibitive for Australian governments.

"Is it sustainable?" Bliemer says.

"You have to provide the money, so it is quite expensive."

Speaking at the Leading Edge Seminar, BusNSW executive director Darryl Mellish says the reward-based concept was popular with seminar delegates.

"I was fascinated by the rewarding concept because I hadn’t seen it before until I saw Michiel present it," Mellish says.

"Just thinking outside the square and making you think of different ways of reducing congestion is really fascinating."

Infrastructure Australia’s fourth annual report, released Friday, says user charges were likely to be inescapable as Australia’s governments struggle to fund capital projects.

''We cannot escape the fact that the maintenance, operation and expansion of our infrastructure networks have to be paid for,'' the Progress and Action report says.

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