Congestion pricing and positive incentives: conceptual analysis and empirical findings from Israel


Galit Cohen-Blankshtain, HILLEL BAR-GERA, and Yoram Shiftan. 2022. “Congestion pricing and positive incentives: conceptual analysis and empirical findings from Israel.” Transportation.


Although congestion pricing has been considered as a key tool of transport demand management (TDM), it is rarely implemented, mainly due to its low public acceptance and resulting political costs. Recently a new approach was suggested: reward desirable behavior rather than punish undesirable behavior. Specifically, positive financial incentives have been suggested to encourage road users to change their departure time, mode of transportation, or route to minimize congestion. This paper makes three contributions to the literature on congestion pricing. First, we offer a comprehensive conceptual examination, reflecting discussions among practitioners in Israel, regarding the positive incentives approach, including various aspects that are related to both positive incentives and congestion tolls, highlighting the differences between the two policies. Second, we use a governmentally-managed pilot with positive incentives that was recently implemented in Israel and which reported important behavioral responses to positive incentives. Third, we use the Israeli experience to examine media discourse regarding congestion pricing policies in general, as well as positive incentive initiatives. We find that the positive incentives pilot demonstrated promising behavioral responses. Moreover, analysis of newspaper articles shows that while the main view of positive incentives is positive, mainly because participation is voluntary, the main attitude toward congestion tolls is negative due to concerns about equity.