This paper reviews the 28 years of experience with congestion pricing in Singapore, which abandoned its groundbreaking manual system of road pricing in 1998 in favor of electronic methods. This permitted tolls to be charged based on vehicle size, route and time of day. The island city-state of about 685 square km is at a crossroads of tourism and commerce at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It has an extremely high population density, more than 6,000 people per square km. Economic growth has averaged an impressive 8 percent annual for the past three decades with a per capita gross domestic product of US$20,856, comparable to the U.S. and most Western countries. Singapore has used a combination of market mechanisms and taxation and outright restrictions to control the degree of car ownership and accompanying congestion. Roads already occupy roughly the same share of the island's land mass, 12 percent, as housing does. The paper describes the origins of the first area licensing scheme in the early 1970s, gives the theoretical foundations for road pricing as a tool for allocative efficiency and shows the initial results of the first pricing schemes. Additional developments over time are detailed. The outcomes show a mixed success in terms of the goal of reducing congestion. Car ownership and usage are both separate problems but linked in terms of the effect car ownership has on usage. Some aspects of the schemes merely served to shift usage to other times of day or week. But the Draconian measures have largely succeeded in keeping traffic from stopping in gridlock, even if congestion has increased. However, the unique characteristics of Singapore suggest its experience is not easily translatable to other parts of the world.


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  • Accession Number: 01001770
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 7 2005 12:00AM