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SDOT unveils early research on congestion tolling in Seattle | MYNorthwest

To get a better sense of what it’s working with, SDOT reviewed 11 different pricing tools. It ultimately narrowed that list down to four, based on criteria like equity, implementation, congestion relief, and climate health.

The study did note that it also wasn’t entirely ruling out the seven other models, and that the city may “re-evaluate the larger set of tools or prioritize others for additional study.”

The four models that it honed in on at least for this phase of research were:

  • Cordon pricing: Charges vehicles for crossing a boundary into a specific zone (i.e. a tolling ring around downtown Seattle). Simple to explain and requires less infrastructure, but SDOT cited equity concerns.
  • Area pricing: A subset of cordon pricing that charges drivers for traveling to, from, and within a specific zone. Requires more infrastructure, but also generates more revenue. Also creates possible equity issues.
  • Fleet pricing: Targets specific types of vehicles, like taxis or rideshare services. Limits both congestion reduction and revenue generation, but is easy to implement. SDOT noted that fleet pricing could be used in tandem with cordon or area pricing as an interim step.
  • Road usage charge: Charges for vehicle miles traveled on specific roads. “High potential” for congestion reduction, but the technology is not quite ready for full-scale implementation. Enforcement could also prove challenging.

The plan is still very much in the preliminary stages, with the city looking to zero in on things like “exact geography, methods, prices, discounts or exemptions, and other variables” in the near future.

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SDOT unveils early research on congestion tolling in Seattle.

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