Congestion Pricing

Traffic congestion on highway

Congestion pricing is a type of tolling created to manage traffic congestion.

For almost 50 years, economists have been advocating Congestion Pricing (where toll prices rise and fall based on the number of cars on the road) as the most effective way to balance supply and demand on highways.

They argue the economic and social costs of congestion are far greater than costs associated with tolling.

Typical driver behavior (where many drivers enter highways at the same time, a.k.a “rush hour”) assumes all drivers have equal values of time.

However, this has been widely disproved. People are different, and they have different needs when it comes to driving.

Congestion Pricing works to accommodate these needs with varying toll prices.

It’s currently used on select highly congested highways in some states, including:

Congestion pricing brochure

Download the brochure
(PDF, 399 KB)

  • California
  • Florida
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas

It’s important to note congestion pricing is not about collecting money. It's about getting commuters to shift the time they make discretionary (work-related) trips, so severe traffic congestion can be reduced or eliminated.

Several congestion management strategies are used in Virginia, including conventional toll roads and open road tolling.

The 495 Express Lanes on Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway) in Northern Virginia are an example of congestion pricing.


Congestion pricing fact sheet

Download the fact sheet
(PDF, 399 KB)

PDF files PDFs


Page last modified: Oct. 18, 2019