Urban road user charging (also called congestion charging or road pricing) involves charging drivers for the use of roads they drive on. The charges are designed to reduce traffic congestion (and its associated problems), so an ‘ideal’ charging scheme would vary charges according to location (more expensive in the city centre), time of day (more expensive at peak) and type of vehicle (more expensive for large and polluting vehicles). Road user charging also raises revenue, which may or may not be ploughed back into transport (typically public transport) improvements. Urban road user charging can take the following three basic forms; variations, from simple to complex, are possible on all of them:
Road user charging can reduce traffic levels in the affected area, typically by 15% to 20%, with more substantial reductions in congestion. Key issues with road charging are its acceptability to drivers (and to others who may be affected by it, e.g. businesses within the charged area), the type and complexity of the chosen technology (manual, video-based, fully electronic), and enforcement.