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What if air quality dictates road pricing? Simulation of an air pollution-based road charging scheme

Rodriguez Garzon, Sandro; Reppenhagen, Marcel; Müller, Marcel

Road tolls serve various purposes, such as to refinance the road infrastructure or to regulate traffic. They are typically levied for the use of a freeway or the entire road network of a region or country. Toll charges may depend on the duration of use, the vehicle's emission class, the time of the day, the distance travelled, or the traffic volume. The primary objective of a few recent toll system deployments is to internalize externalities with respect to vehicle-caused air pollution. However, the air quality along the toll roads has so far not been considered to directly influence road usage prices. This article investigated by simulation the expected monetary expenditure for drivers and the traffic impact of applying a new distance and air pollution-based charging scheme in the metropolitan region of Berlin. The road usage charges were determined on a per-trip basis by taking the vehicle's emission class, the distance travelled, and the air pollution levels along the route into consideration. The simulation results indicate that it is beneficial for drivers to avoid areas of high air pollution in order to reduce the trip's total road usage charges. The average additional detour distance is thereby short in comparison to the route's length and the resulting additional emissions do not increase to the same extent as the number of detours, since detours are partly even shorter in terms of distance. The explorative analysis gives initial insights into the traffic effects of a charging scheme in which air pollution dictates road pricing.
Published in: Journal of urban mobility, 10.1016/j.urbmob.2022.100018, Elsevier