‘Peak hour rights’ as an alternative to road toll

As a convinced defender of road tolls to fight traffic congestion (and pollution), Stef Proost now suggests ‘peak hour rights” to cure the still-increasing daily congestion at peak hours on Belgian roads.

Professor Emeritus Stef Proost (University of Louvain) is an economics professor who has become an expert on mobility problems and their economic and societal consequences. He has studied traffic congestion problems for decades and is looking for valuable alternatives to solve them.

For years, he has been promoting other types of transport/mobility than the car, trying to cure congestion problems, and has proved himself as an adamant defender of different forms of road pricing. Now, he’s reversing the possible solution.

The other way round

Instead of paying a road toll, car users are given so-called ‘peak hour rights’ to use their car when traffic is congested. Proost has noticed that a simple road toll is not convincing enough for people to adapt their car-driving habits.

That’s why he tries to turn the problem upside down. Give people the right to use their car during peak hours but not every day. Proost gives an example: “If you want the traffic density to diminish by 20%, then you have to give somebody who commutes five days per week from Louvain to Brussels the right to do it four times. On the fifth day, he has to pay.”

Trading system

Like the European Emissions Trading System (ETS), Proost suggests that these rights should be transferable. People who need to drive during congestion periods can buy rights from others who are happy to sell theirs. A digital platform would be used to regulate these payments and register the trips.

“The ultimate goal is that people are incited to use their car less and choose for other means of transport or mobility,” says Proost. “The advantage of such a system of peak hour rights is the fact that people get something for free and only have to pay for ‘an excess’. This can prove to be a significant turnaround in the behavior of car users,” Proost concludes.


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