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Congestion charging is a surcharge on drivers using congested roads.

 LEZ is a fuel restriction area which sets specific pollutants discharge limits for vehicles and other transport modes to improve air quality.

A global map that shows countries/ cites related to CC.

Policy recommendations for LEZ/CC implementation in China.

Detailed information on countries/cities related to CC.

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Congestion Charging Policy

Definition: Congestion charging is a surcharge on drivers using congested roads.


Essence: Congestion charging is a TDM-based economic measure. By accommodating the transport route and mode selection behaviors of travelers, it uses pricing to adjust the space and time distribution of traffic, control traffic density of urban roads at rush hours, enhance traffic speed of road facilities, and coordinate usage rate of multiple transport modes, especially public transit and non-motorized transport to meet the demand of road users for time and economic efficiency.


Cities implemented the policy: Singapore (1997), Rome (2001), Durham, UK (2002), London (2003), Stockholm (2006), Valletta, Malta (2007), Milan (2008) and Gothenburg (2013). 


Policy Objective: Alleviate traffic congestion and improve traffic efficiency.


Charging Modes: By regions, separation areas, key road sections, and by distance.


Charged Groups: The congestion charging policy shall follow the “users to pay” principle and be adapted to local traffic conditions.


Charging area: Congestion charging policy should be implemented in regions with high land-use intensity, high traffic occupancy intensity or in regions with rare ecological landscape resources.


Charging Hours: Congestion charging should be time specific. It is aimed at reducing traffic during peak hours, so charging dates and hours should be determined by features of traffic congestion in a city.


Charging Rate: The charging rate in different cities is subject to multiple factors such as external cost of congestion, traffic volume, resilience of travel demand, economic development level and the impact on environment.


Technology: As the core element of congestion charging, electronic charging system include: Multi-lane free flow system based on ETC, Licensing plate recognition system based on image and video capture, charging system based on RFID, and charging system based on GPS.

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Low Emission Zone Policy

Definition: LEZ is a fuel restriction area which sets specific pollutants discharge limits for vehicles and other transport modes to improve air quality. 


Essence: It is a geographically defined area where usage of the most polluting vehicles are restricted or discouraged.


Aim: improve air quality by setting emission standards or rules to reduce the usage and population of the most polluting vehicles in the area. 


The fundamental reason for cities to adopt LEZs: the external costs of polluting vehicles, or the external impacts on the society caused by polluting vehicles running for their own benefits, including the negative impacts on public health and damage to the whole ecosystem.


Key elements: Policy targets, Boundary types, Vehicle classification, Licensed vehicles, Emission standards, Designing taxation, Enforcement and monitoring, Monitoring technologies.

Successfully implemented Congestion Charging Policy
In discussion
Failure Cases
Cases on map
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Policy Recommendations

In China, city authorities are the decision-makers regarding LEZ/CC policies, while national government plays an important role in policy promotion. Based on the combined experiences of London, Singapore, and Stockholm, and features that are unique to China, we propose the following recommendations for decision-makers: 

National Government

  • Legal Safeguard: the national government should combine the objectives of local LEZ/CC schemes with national transportation strategies in a clear and consistent manner. National government should also support the implementation of local congestion alleviation and emissions reduction policies through favorable legislation, regulation, and policies.

Municipal Government

  • Strong Policy Objectives: the municipal government should set clear and strong objectives before implementing any LEZ/CC scheme. Strong objectives are the starting point for developing an effective plan, and can help to ensure consistency throughout policy preparation, implementation, operation, management, and monitoring. Consensus on objectives and the implementation process should be reached early on because multiple local government agencies will be involved during policy development and enforcement.

  • Comprehensive Feasibility Study: local government should conduct comprehensive studies focusing on implementation details, such as charging fees and targets. Modeling and scientific analyses are important to evaluate different scenarios and provide support to decision-making.

  • Equity and Transparency in Policy Implementation: the allocation of revenues from congestion charging is critical to policy implementation outcomes. It is recommended that revenues be dedicated to transportation system improvement, and that the process is transparent to the public. This is helpful in raising policy acceptability among the public.

  • Reliable Technologies: adopting innovative and advanced technologies should not be the main focus of technology selection. Field-proven technologies that are well suited to the local context offer the greatest chance of successful implementation.

  • Effective Public Communication: Public communication is one of the key elements in ensuring policy acceptability. Communication strategies should be effective, and updated to take account of public feedback. This enables public communication to serve its purpose of improving policy acceptability.

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Beijing, China, 100027


Phone: 86 10 6416 5697

Fax: 86 10 6416 7567



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