Emissions and Energy Costs in Marginal Cost Pricing for Roadways

Funded as part of Northwestern’s Initiative on Sustainability and Energy, the objective of this study is to develop a methodology for analyzing and setting user prices (under marginal cost pricing) to better reflect vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

Congestion results in increased greenhouse emissions and wasted fuel. Pricing is considered along with other operational strategies, such as signal timing, lane use controls and real-time traffic management, as a mechanism to influence user behavior and the resulting flow patterns towards less congested and more energy and environmentally sustainable states. 

Outcomes of this ongoing study are to:

(i) extend congestion pricing principles to account explicitly for emissions and fuel consumption costs, in addition to travel time costs;

(ii) provide a reliable basis and network-level methodology for analyzing pricing mechanisms for reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.