Exploring public perceptions of tradable credits for congestion management in urban areas

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Congestion is threatening the accessibility and liveability of urban regions. Cities are usually hesitant to consider the effective, yet controversial idea of congestion pricing as a measure to abate the growing economic and environmental problems. In the longstanding search for an effective and acceptable pricing scheme, there has been an increased interest in tradable credits. Compared to charging instruments, this novel concept has the theoretical advantage that it can better address equity issues while effectively reducing congestion. Although one may argue that tradable peak credits (TPC) lead to higher public acceptability, very few empirical studies have researched this. Therefore, this study explores attitudes towards TPC using five focus groups with Dutch citizens. The participants were confronted with a hypothetical city where two instruments were suggested: peak charge (PC) and TPC. Most participants preferred PC and only two participants supported TPC while opposing PC. The advantages as addressed in literature played minor roles in the discussions. Participants revealed a sceptical attitude towards TPC or were more convinced about PC. Contrary to expectations, the attitudes became more negative as the discussions developed. Based on these insights, we propose directions for future research to assist the search for an acceptable congestion pricing instrument.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102877
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Acceptability
  • Congestion charge
  • Focus groups
  • Personal permit trading
  • Road pricing


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