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User reaction and efficient differentiation of charges and tolls

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User response to changes in transport pricing

The Different project identified the preconditions required for applying fair and effective prices to transport. The project developed a number of hypotheses to arrive at the optimum level of different infrastructure charges from both an economic and a psychological perspective.

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The European researchers compared information from actual case studies carried out by project partners with hypothetical data. Apparently, three main factors play a decisive role in price differentiation for charging schemes and include pricing aims, cost structure and demands of the user. Project partners investigated different modes of transport to determine if price changes have any effect on the behaviour of the travelling public. Evidence showed that price differentiation influenced travel behaviour, depending to a large extent on the form of transport used. The results from case studies indicated that with regard to road transport, price changes led to changes in demand. In the case of German and Swiss heavy goods, vehicle tolls were related to axle weight and fuel emissions, therefore any alteration of charges had an obvious impact. The situation was less clear for railways, because of a lack of data due to regulatory changes in the sector. For air transport the changes to starting and landing fees had a limited effect on the behaviour of airlines. However, differentiation of prices might be effective in future if the charges applied are much higher for airports. In Sweden different charges applied on a 'green' basis led to greater awareness of the environmental challenges found in maritime transport. This fact, together with other mechanisms has precipitated the application of emission-reducing technology to vessels. For the environment, the Different consortium has encouraged differential pricing schemes for the benefit of the real world, impacting on people's day-to-day lives. The project results also provide valuable insights for decision-makers at the European, national, regional and local level.

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