The CO2ngestion Commission Failed!

As Politiken reports today congestion will increase 50% between now and 2025, if all recommendations from the commission are followed. A meager result is putting it to lightly.

The Congestion Commission was founded after the Left-center government had given up the promised a congestion ring. A few months of opposition from Industry lobby and a few Copenhagen Suburb mayors, who feared their municipality streets would turn into park & ride lots, was too much for the Government. Despite a majority in parliament, the Minister of State, Helle Thorning Smith refused on a milestone press conference in 2012, to comment, but promised a great solution would be presented the day after.
The Great solution was the Congestion Commission, and we can now compare the results of the Congestion Commission strategy to the congestion ring.

Inbound afternoon traffic on Lyngbymotorvej, one of the main gateways to Copenhagen.
Congestion is worse in the morning.
Photo: Lars Barfred

Current estimate is a loss time equal to 9.3 million hours for 2012. The Congestion Ring would have reduced this loss to about 6.5 mill. hours. Keep in mind a full elimination of congestion cost of car traffic, is not possible in any larger city in the world, even if you only provide infrastructure and provide it with a 8-10 lane motorway right thru the heart of the city, like in Dubai, you will still have rush hour traffic.

If nothing is done, Tetraplan who runs the much criticized traffic model (OTM), calculates congestion rises to by 18.4 mill. hours 2025, three times the levels of the congestion ring.

The Congestion Commission recommendations leads to an increase in timeloss to 15.6 mill. hours in 2025. Better than doing nothing but at kroner 44 billion the plan is about ten times more expensive than the congestion ring, and delivers an increase in congestion to 250% of the level of the ring.

All congestion costs are by the way related to cars and mass transit only. For mass transit its only the unplanned time loss is included.
Bicycling, which is a third of all traffic in Copenhagen is not included, though car congestion increases bike travel times with 70-90% in Copenhagen, compared to cities like Amsterdam.

Why is this?
First of all the commission recommends to increase infrastructure for all modalities, rather than prioritizing, and improving the most efficient modalities, mass transit and bicycling. A lot of both new freeways and carparking is accordingly part of the plan.

All large cities has limited transport corridor capacity, if transport modality efficiency is ignored, and car traffic is preferred. However when changing modality to efficient mass transit and bicycling/walking, only the most dense cities of the world like Tokyo will not be able to eliminate congestion.

The plan also operates with assumptions, that mass transit prices increase, car prices drop, and car ownership increases no matter what, as long as the GDP increases.
The result is that two-thirds of traffic growth is car traffic.

This is directly against the commission objective, which states the majority of growth in traffic must be in mass transit and bicycling.

So is it not possible to reduce car traffic by other means than a congestion ring?
It is, the commission has failed to recognize such scientifically proven demand-regulating measures as;

  • Changing the free residential-parking principle of Copenhagen
  • Eliminating zoning demands for construction of car parking
  • Taxing free employee parking, which is virtually the only tax-free fringe benefit, and increases car-commuting by 50%
  • Increasing Car-ownership taxes, which the last 20 years has been systematically lowered from 180% to 35% on the cheapest cars, leading to huge growth in car ownership.
  • Reduction or elimination of car commuter tax incentives
  • Market pricing of curbside parking (See Donald Shoup 2010)

The Commission considers no means to reduce traffic demand, such as increasing urban density, and specifically close to the main mass transit arteries, low income in the city, on/near campus student housing.

On the long run the commission does not recommend road pricing, but do recommend a trial project.

The Congestion Commission recommendations lead to an increase in CO2 emissions from the traffic. recommends the Danish Minister of Transport, Pia Olsen Dyhr, fails the commission, and sends them back to prioritize the traffic in the metropolitan area. The commision has not met, or is even close to its objectives. The Congestions Commission has failed

The commission is not formally finished, and the report is not public yet, but only grammar are to be changed in the reports, which you can read here (all in Danish);



Tetraplan traffic model report

Road Pricing Report

Remedying congestion, you only have to turn your back to the Freeway in the first picture and look up! High classed mass transit in seamlessly integrated with high classed bicycling, its as simple as that!
Photo: Lars Barfred

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