What are fair public transport fares?

Public transport fare policy is complex and fraught with compromises.

Some call for free public transport.

Others suggest the cost of car travel in peak periods should be have a congestion charge to provide a more level playing field (like London and Singapore).

At the same time, governments are trying to balance budgets, with less revenue and increasing demands for services.

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Alternative road funding – developments in Oregon

The US state of Oregon started consideration of alternative sources of road funding in 2001 when it became obvious that the existing gas tax – the primary source of US transport funding – was not future proof. Modern vehicles were becoming more fuel efficient (and new vehicles required to be more so) and a growing proportion using alternative sources of energy, e.g. electric vehicles.

After reviewing 28 different road funding options a distance based Road User Fee (RUF) pilot program was developed and findings reported in 2007. The pilot used a pay at the pump model.

A number of issues were raised, primarily about potential privacy in using a GPS based system, so in 2012 Oregon is about to trial a new model.

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How do we transition to road user charging?

Two major challenges facing road agencies into the next decade will be dealing with increasing traffic congestion, and securing funding for infrastructure and services – hence the growing interest in road user and congestion charging.

As governments look for alternative sources of funding and give serious consideration to road user charging, then providing quality customer service will require a significant change in focus. Road agencies have limited opportunities for a direct relationship with their customers, the road users.

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Implementation Issues for Congestion Charging

Road user charging, be it in the form of tolled roads, HOT (high occupancy tolled) lanes or congestion pricing, is currently topical, largely as a consequence of traffic congestion and the shortage of funds to provide new capacity, but also in terms of the potential of the tool for generating revenue and managing travel demand.

London’s high profile Congestion-Charging Scheme has clearly raised congestion charging to the fore within the global transport debate. Yet a scheme suitable for London may not be suitable for other cities having different characteristics in terms of demographics, transport options and patterns of behaviour.

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