Congestion Pricing: Is There a Perfect Technology Solution?

U.S. cities will likely look to places like Singapore, London and Stockholm, which have adopted congestion pricing traffic control programs. Singapore, a city covering only about 250 square miles with a population of about 4.5 million, was one of the earliest to adopt congestion pricing in the 1990s. It used overhead gantries and short-range radio technology similar to California’s FasTrak.

“It was essentially variable tolls on the major freeways,” said Alexandre M. Bayen, director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University California, Berkeley, adding that the system was not considered hugely revolutionary at the time, but is still all but unthinkable stateside.

“With some form of adaptive pricing — and the notion being that if you want to decongest, you price more — you publish the fares ahead of time, and then people won’t use it,” said Bayen, explaining the concept further.