The audio version of an in-depth article on the 12 best ways to get cars out of cities.
Self-driving cars could lead to increased traffic and pollution if they spur more travel by car.
Witthaya Prasongsin via Getty Images
Studies show that when people can ride in a car without having to operate it, they increase their car use. That could increase traffic and pollution, unless government puts a price on car travel.
To reduce pressure on cities and the environment, drivers should face a charge that reflects the actual costs of clogged roads, air pollution, climate change, injury and death.
The benefits of road-user charging are now well established. And including electric vehicles doesn’t have to be a deterrent to their uptake, as New Zealand and other nations have shown.
Electric vehicles would lower emissions, but if their lower running costs lead to increased car use that creates a whole lot of other costs for our cities.
COVID led to commuting time savings worth over $2,000 a year for each driver and $5,000 per public transport user. But as workplaces reopen, we may need road user charges to keep traffic flowing.
Peak-time drivers to the CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne typically earn much more than the average worker.
Commuters who drive to and from the CBD typically earn much more than most. Concerns about the fairness of charging drivers who use these busy roads at peak times are overblown.
Having fun yet?
Despite efforts to encourage a shift to sustainable transportation, traffic congestion is often the focus of debates over mobility. Motorists endlessly demand more roads, but is this really a solution?
These streets are made for walking.
The car revolutionised the way people travel – but at a heavy cost. Now, car-free cities will only work when there’s reliable public transit and access for all.
London: a clean future?
Drivers of polluting vehicles will face a daily charge, but evidence suggests it’s a price worth paying.
Find out what the Ultra Low Emission Zone is, how it works and what Londoners make of the new measures.
Traffic flows into Manhattan from Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Starting in 2021, drivers will pay a fee to enter midtown and lower Manhattan during busy times of day. Will this clear New York’s air and streets?
Vancouver used traffic congestion as a ‘stick’ and the SkyTrain as a ‘carrot’ in a strategy to discourage car use and make the city a better place to live.
Instead of spending ever more on roads, we can learn from Vancouver’s use of congestion as a ‘friend’ in managing the development of transport networks and of the city itself.
Urgent and radical change in urban transport policies and practices will benefit the planet and future generations.
To cut emissions within the 12 years or so we have left to avoid disastrous global warming, we will need to change our old transport habits, using a combination of strategies to achieve this.
Federal and state governments have put their hands up to fund airport rail links before we have even seen business cases.
Billions of taxpayer dollars are committed before all the evidence for, and against, infrastructure projects is in. As well as missing business cases, basic rules of economic modelling are broken.
Friend or foe?
AP Photo/Richard Vogel
In many US cities, ride-hailing apps are luring riders away from public transit and increasing traffic congestion. But with the right rules, they could enhance public transit instead.
The congestion charge has helped to ease traffic and raise funds. But the rise of Uber and other private hire vehicles have raised unforeseen challenges.
Times Square traffic jam.
New York soon may charge a fee to drive into central Manhattan as a way of reducing traffic and raising funds for public transit. An urban scholar says this step is overdue in the United States.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance and the Coalition government are under pressure to fix long-standing problems with Sydney’s train system which have now come to a head.
The real challenge is finding appropriate ways to invest in public transport that will not only take pressure off the system but also support improved travel on all modes, including cars.
Reforming how drivers pay for the costs of their road use can help keep traffic flowing, which is just one of the potential benefits.
Traffic congestion is the main cost that cars create when they use existing roads. Road use charges are a more efficient and fairer way to cover the cost and help ensure traffic flows.