Public frames in the road pricing debate: A Q-methodology study

Lizet Krabbenborg*, Eric Molin, Jan Anne Annema, Bert van Wee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


A deep understanding of people's support for road pricing may help policymakers to design more practical pricing schemes that are effective in abating congestion but lead to less public opposition. This study adds to the rich body of road pricing acceptability literature by taking a different approach that focuses on the underlying pattern of the arguments, beliefs and attitudes, which largely determine the viewpoint of individuals with respect to road pricing. We apply Q-methodology to find these viewpoints by asking respondents to rank order subjective arguments that are subtracted from the public debate on road pricing and to identify shared viewpoints that are called frames. Analysis revealed four frames: The polluter should pay, Focus on fair alternatives, What's in it for me? and Don't interfere. Only the Polluter should pay frame is positive about road pricing. The other three frames are negative about road pricing, which suggests that there is not just one single block of citizens opposed to road pricing, but that quite different arguments are used in the various frames. We discuss how these frames can be used by policy-makers that intend to implement road pricing, to fine-tune the design, communication and implementation process of road pricing schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Acceptability
  • Congestion charging
  • Q-methodology
  • Road pricing


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