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Air Quality

Our Experiments


Congestion Charging


Case Studies


The Team

Project Management



Congestion Charging - Past Results

In order to forecast the effects congesting charging would have on the volume of traffic within the city of Glasgow we studied the effects in other European cities.


London operates using the automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR). Two camera types are used to provide high quality video-stream (analogue) signals sent to the ANPR computer system. The colour camera shows the vehicle in the context of its surroundings. The monochrome camera is employed specifically to read number plates. An 80 charge is distributed if spotted in the charge zone by camera without paying. This is reduced to 40 if paid within 14days and increased to 120 if not paid within 28days. The charge for entering the zone is 5. Payments can be made in advance or on the day before travel before 10pm. If you pay between 10pm and midnight on the day the charge is 10.

There are seven methods of paying:

1. On-line
2. Text message
3. 'Fast Track' - you are issued with a swipe card
4. Shops
5. Machines - where zone starts
6. Post
7. Phone

Before the charge average speeds in London were 10mph during the working day and 50% of drivers were spending their time in queues. Benefits one year on:

- 18% less traffic entering the zone between 7am and 6.30pm

- Traffic delays in zone reduced by 30%

- 15% less traffic in zone

- Taxi, bus and coach movements are up by 20%

- Van and lorries down 10%

- Pedal and cycle movements up 20%

- Powered two-wheel movements up 10-15%



Model congestion charging tests were run in eight European cities between periods of 6 - 12 months. Gothenburg has similar geometry to that of Glasgow in that the city is also split by a river and has a busy motorway running alongside it. There are slightly less habitants in Gothenburg, just over 500,000. It has a 2-3% annual growth rate. Gothenburg used a Vehicle Positioning System (VPS) active around a centralised toll area of the city where a fixed charge was incurred for entering this area. The charge equates to approx. 1.40/day. During the test period Gothenburg witnessed an 11% drop in vehicles throughout the charging area.


Stockholm has found that by introducing a variable charge rather than a fixed 1.40 one-directional charge they can achieve up to 22% drop in traffic. Variable charges were also introduced in Copenhagen resulting in a 13% reduction in traffic.

Oslo and Trondheim

At present both Oslo and Trondheim have congestion charges in operation. Oslo has a fixed one-directional charge of 0.80 and this has shown a small decrease of 5% in vehicle numbers. Trondheim has a variable charging system starting at 0.80 and varies depending on the time of the day and the size of the vehicle. This has resulted in a 10% reduction in overall vehicle numbers. After model congestion charging tests in Holland, where the charge was increased to 1.40 per day, there was an 11% reduction in overall vehicles.


Rome was another of the cities to take part n the model congestion charging experiment. Rome is 4.6km2 and holds almost 4million in habitants. The city is home to 1.8million private vehicles. Public transport accounts for only 34% of motorised trips per year. As a result Rome has alarming levels of benzene, CO, NO and PM10. They tested a variable charging scheme and found a 20% reduction of traffic and a 6% increase of public transport numbers.


Other countries have also found success in greatly decreasing the volume of traffic on the roads and improving air quality by means of congestion charging. Singapore is one of these who have introduced high congestion charging and have had dramatic effects.


Past City Conclusions

These results show that in cities such as Rome, Stockholm and Copenhagen where variable charges were tested, a greater decrease in traffic was recorded within these areas. It is also apparent that a small charge of e.g. 0.80 in some Norway cities where traffic reduction was only 5% does not have as much of an effect as cities that charge more. This was evident in both Gothenburg and London. The London charge is much higher at 5 and after 1year the traffic has fallen by 30%. Therefore, variable charging at higher prices appears to be the best option.

Future Projects


Edinburgh has a sizable population of just over 400,000 people and the city centre looks set to be Scotland's first congestion charging city. Like Glasgow, Edinburgh has also been dubbed an Air Quality Management Area greatly as a result of the large volume of harmful exhaust fumes. Edinburgh city hopes to introduce a variable charging scheme where a charge of 1, 2 or 3 will be incurred depending on which zone the vehicle enters (a combination of both the city centre and the city by-pass). A prediction of an initial 5% reduction in vehicles has been made. This is hoped to rise to 10% after its first year where it will have a significant effect on currently high pollution levels. They have estimated a 500-1 billion cost of delivery of system over a period of 10-20 years. If Edinburgh does go ahead and adopt this charge system, it is estimated that an additional 450million over 10years could be recovered to go towards transport and traffic infrastructure. Funding makes it easier to introduce:

3-line tram network

An outer ring of 5/6 park and ride sites around the city

Major bus service and bus fare initiatives with more frequent, new services

Live public transport timing info. At bus stops, shops etc.

Improved inter-ticketing

High quality pedestrian and environment improvements

Citywide cycle route

20mph speed limit

Road maintenance


2004 All rights reserved. Copyright of Derek Weir, Leanne McMillan, Roy MacLean, Hee Dong Oh & Ayman Elsadig


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