Motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution in urban areas, and for decades municipal and regional governments have used various traffic management strategies in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions, alongside advancements like cleaner fuel and greener cars.
But not all traffic management strategies are created equal, says UBC transportation expert and civil engineering professor Alexander Bigazzi. After reviewing more than 60 studies on the subject, Bigazzi has concluded that road pricing – or pay per use – is the most effective strategy to reduce emissions and traffic.
You reviewed traffic management strategies (TMS) in Asia, Europe and the Americas. What did you find?
We looked at the entire body of literature, including hundreds of published papers, and identified 65 studies documenting the real-world effects of 22 types of traffic management strategies including speed enforcement programs, lane management such as HOV lanes, road and congestion pricing, and trip reduction strategies like incentives for telecommuting or ride sharing.
The strategies with the best evidence of air quality improvements are area road/congestion pricing and low-emission zones. Other strategies have potential benefits, but there is less empirical evidence, either because the benefits are very small or because the benefits are offset by some other effect.
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