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Vehicle Restrictions in Four Latin American Cities: Is Congestion Pricing Possible?

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An exploratory study of the prospects for congestion pricing in four Latin American metropolitan areas where traffic bans currently exist—Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Bogota—is presented. Through a historical analysis of the implementation process and experience of the traffic bans, along with a snowball-sampled survey of transportation experts in each city, three factors are found to be the most important to ensure favourable prospects for implementing congestion pricing in these cities: (1) widespread public information regarding the environmental and health risks of traffic congestion and resulting air pollution; (2) implementation of complementary policies such as public transport enhancements and increased parking fees in congested areas; and (3) development of a knowledge culture among politicians and experts through discourse on alternative road pricing policies based on systematic analysis. Among other pertinent issues discussed, the work shows that the equity concerns for low-income car drivers often cited in discussions on congestion pricing in developed countries are less applicable in the cases studied. A key concern is the lack of political will because it is people with relatively higher incomes and political influence who predominantly own and use cars in these four cities. The findings, though exploratory, are important because the potential of congestion pricing to manage the rapid pace of motorization in the developing world is not well studied. This paper presents an initial step towards studying the implementation of the policy in developing countries.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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