May 20, 2005

Fifty years on

Last Pentecost Day, May 15th, marked the 50th anniversary of the traffic jam. In 1955, many Dutch (and Germans) wanted to visit the flower fields in the west, and many others fancied a day on the Veluwe nature reserve, in the east. Those two traffic streams met at a roundabout called Oudenrijn, in the center of the Netherlands. All in all, some 50.000 cars passed there, causing the first Dutch tailback ever.

Back then, people were astonished, but also proud. The traffic jam meant that the Netherlands had become a ´modern´ country. It also marked the success of contemporary government policy, which was essentially to encourage car ownership and car use.

Fifty years on, the situation is different. The worst traffic jams still occur because of recreational transport, ie at the beginning or end of holidays, but commuter traffic now causes jams each day.

It is to be hoped that variabilisation, which took stakeholders half a century to agree upon, will mitigate congestion.

Christof

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Hello Chirstof:

I hope this project is you as interesting as it is for me. I work in it for 15 years and every time find it more exciting.

In fact it is necessary to distinguish two things that they are not exactly same, the project "Pay As You Drive" like system to evaluate the risk in the conduction, to inform the driver so that he takes measures to reduce it and to bill the insurance of the automobile in function of these evaluations. This would have a direct influence in the way of driving and in the congestion of the traffic, because both factors rebound directly in risk. And on the other hand there is an indirect effect, as consequence of transforming a fixed expense into one variable whose effect would be the reduction of the traffic.

But from the environmental point of view the most interesting thing is that some governments have noticed that this system could also measure as much, how and when the infrastructures are used and this opens the possibility to have a very effective tool, not only to be able to influence on the traffic, but also so that it is this the one that pays the costs of infrastructures (and CO2 emissions) that it generates. This impacts in the conversion of a fixed expense again (although in this case they are the direct taxes) in one variable.

The last thing is the proposal that the taxes on the fuels are substituted by a payment system by traveled distance. http://www.rff.org/rff/Documents/RFF-DP-05-15.pdf

The truth is that while in some areas and cases the vehicle covers a basic necessity of mobility, there are in other many in those that the traffic is only a problem of comfort, since they exist perfectly valid public transportation alternatives. The basic idea of the project "Pay As You Drive" has enough power like to be able to identify these cases quite well.

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