Referendum Voting in Road Pricing Reform: A Review of the Evidence

06 July 2016

Voting support for congestion charging has a very recent history with, until now, only two congestion charging schemes approved by a majority in referendum voting (Stockholm and Milan). This paper presents a review of referendum voting behaviour in road pricing reform, in which a number of key factors that influence voters’ behaviour are identified including voter expectations, awareness of what road pricing reform means, familiarity with the road pricing debate, perceived fairness, environmental concerns, car dependence, and the value of a trial. The two most important reasons that the majority of congestion charging proposals were voted against in referenda in jurisdictions such as Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK are uncertainty associated with the effectiveness of congestion charging and the lack of information on congestion charging. Based on two successful congestion charging referenda and ideas from research studies, this paper proposes a two-step approach to address the barriers to the successful implementation of congestion charging in a package of transport reform initiatives.