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Congestion Pricing - Are you for or against it?

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
It seems that New York City's mayor is very keen on the idea of using "congestion pricing" to alleviate traffic snarls and pollution in the Big Apple.

READ IT HERE

Would such a plan in your city change your habits or would you just grit your teeth and fork over the $$$? Do you resent such interference and taxation or do you find it "fair enough" and a reasonable solution to a growing problem?

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,219
    It seems to be working in parts of London where, like NY, there's a good public transportation system in place. Driving in Manhattan is fun, once.

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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    From an economist's pov, it's a perfect solution to the all too-frequent problem known as "the tradegy of the commons", as well as a great example of the Coase theorem in action.

    It's not appropriate for all areas obviously (those w/o decent public transportation esp.), but for major urban zones, it's a great idea.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    Yes it might serve to penalize those who can't afford it IF they live in an area with poor public transportation. In San Francisco for instance, the BART system is very efficient but "doesn't go where you need to be"....it is designed strictly to transport workers into the financial district. The MUNI bus system is pretty bad in San Fran. So for someone commuting to a job in San Francisco other than in the narrow BART corridor, you're screwed.

    Of course, Los Angeles public transportation is pathetic.

    In New York City however, I could see where the lower income driver would find public transportation a reasonable alternative and very workable.

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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    And add to the complexity that if it *does* work, governments need to take the impact of the subsitution toward public transportation into account...otherwise, the congestion on the buses, rails, etc. gets as bad as it was on the roads. :(

    We're nearing that where I live, in Washington, D.C.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I think it's a great idea, primarily because it's been proven to be effective. However I will be very surprised if it gets implemented. It will face the same objections that higher fuel taxes face. The claim will be that it represents a regressive tax on the poor and now only the rich can afford to drive in Manhattan. So we're left with this paralysis when it comes to addressing problems. The solution must be completely fair, which is impossible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    You could look at it as a way to torture the rich. I'm not sure driving in Manhattan is a privilege...it's just a bad habit IMO.

    It strikes me as similar to the premium you pay to fly First Class on American Airlines...you are still screwed but you have a nicer seat and real knives and forks. Whoopie.

    It's not like the well to do are being chauffered to Manhattan in limos or anything.

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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    And the detractors have to remember that the goal here is lessening congestion overall, not changing who's causing it.

    If lower-income drivers don't have to pay for instance, that'll mean the streets will still be gridlocked, just with second-hand Toyotas instead of new BMWs. Is that really any better for anyone?

    There's likely a way to give poorer drivers who genuinely need to drive (like those under a certain income level commuting from Manhattan to a job in a 'burb) a break w/o screwing unduly with the incentives of the system.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The perception will be that this $8 or $21 fee will be inconsequential to the rich. They have now effectively eliminated the riff-raff from their streets so it is more convenient for them to get around.

    That's not the way I see it. If it's effective then the people removed from the streets will be the less affluent, meaning they aren't being taxed at all. If in return they are provided with better public transportation then this will have been paid for by the more affluent. Hard to call that regressive.

    I do believe that driving will soon be perceived as more of a luxury than it is today. That's the way it started out. In fact I believe that the high fuel taxes paid in Europe were original considered a luxury tax because only rich people could afford cars.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,219
    Residents could be given an exemption or charged a partial fee.

    Seems like the streets around Central Park are jammed with taxis and a few limos. I suppose you can get some work done in a limo, and you'll certainly have ample opportunity to bill some hours with the gridlock that you see there.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    Certainly if I were a Manhattan resident or frequent commuter, I'd trade a few bucks for cleaner air and a slightly more humane environment and I wouldn't mind kicking in some bucks for better public transport. These things may not matter to those twenty-somethings living 6 to an apartment and partying hard, or to tourists in for a few days to spend/shop, but for the average Manhattan wage slave anything that improves quality of life has got to be worth paying for.

    PS: I lived in Manhattan 33 years, so this topic interests me.

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  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    This only works if the city in question has a vibrant downtown with a strong core of work, shopping and entertainment opportunities that attracts people who live outside the city limits.

    There is always the risk that people living outside the city will simply stay out of the city altogether to avoid paying the congestion charge, thus depriving the city of any revenues, not to mention the salutary effect that full streets and regular actvity have on crime rates

    In other words, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago can try this.

    I would suggest that Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Baltimore and Houston think twice, lest they wreck their downtowns.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,911
    I got great Mexican food on every corner in the Suburbs. The only reason I can think of to go downtown is if I am on jury duty. Then I would take the Trolley. Cities are horrible places to be. Charge $30 bucks a day so NYC can be better than London. Then a head tax for Oxygen would be good. If you exhale there will be a carbon tax assessed.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,851
    It's already been done in London - in place for several years:
    http://www.cclondon.com/

    If the cameras catch you in violation and you pay the fine within 14 days, it's reduced to ~$100 from ~$200 (USD). Ouch.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,329
    That tax would likely reduce my number of times in Manhattan to zero. I have no interest in paying that kind of money for the "privilege."

    I can't even imagine how they deal with people who live there.

    Bloomberg was making the rounds yesterday, telling folks up in Harlem that they should support this because it will make the air better and reduce their asthma rate which is horrible. Only trouble is that the folks he was talking to figured (correctly) that since they weren't in the target area they would get MORE cars and worse air.

    This is just more of government think that midtown Manhattan IS New York and taht the rest of the population should just go away. I've watched it all my life.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    strikes me as similar to the premium you pay to fly First Class on American Airlines...you are still screwed but you have a nicer seat and real knives and forks. Whoopie.

    I don't think the TSA lets you have real knifes anymore.

    On topic...

    I am really torn about this and not sure what my feelings are. I will need to think about it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    Really? I can pay $2,100 for a first class ticket and get plastic knives TOO?!!

    Manhattan: re fezo's comment....won't be the first time people have accused Manhattan's government of "economic apartheid". Maybe it's true that the "real" New York is now in Brooklyn? And maybe congestion pricing programs like this will insure that that becomes true?

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,911
    They went back to real knives in First Class on Alaska Airlines. Try cutting a tough steak with a plastic knife. I broke one and it flew over my shoulder luckily the guy behind was asleep and it missed him.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,329
    Actually if the result of such a thing were a revival of Brooklyn that would be a very good thing indeed.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I have no interest in paying that kind of money for the "privilege."

    I don't think that it has anything to do with privilege. It's all about the value an individual assigns to open roads as opposed to congested ones. In a capitalist society we pay for things that we perceive to have value. My job used to require me to frequently drive on the DC beltway at near rush hour. If you've never done this it involves going about 50 yards at a time for sometimes up to an hour. I'd find myself thinking, what if I could throw some money out the window and magically 25% of these cars would disappear. How much would I be willing to throw? The amount varied by my frustration/stress level on a given day but it was always more than $8. I ended up quitting that job because the commute was just too painful.

    Is this an elitist attitude? I don't think so. After all there are plenty of things that poor people can't afford to do. There are already poor people that can't afford to drive. We're just talking about shifting the dividing line. Road space turns out to be a limited resource in some areas and in a capitalist society typically the best way to allocate these resources is by price. I do think that in return the government should offer more and better options for the public to still remain mobile. And I have no problem doing my share to pay for these options. I'd rather pay in dollars than in wasted time spent in congestion.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    is attempt, in a rough way, to bring the cost we pay to drive more in line with the actual cost of our driving.

    There's nothing intrinsically unfair about that, no more than that BMWs cost more than Toyotas.

    The argument can reasonably be made that as a society we should do something to help more people buy BMWs, but no serious person suggests that BMW pricing is unfair.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Good point. And to those people that oppose government meddling, how about this? Let's take the complete opposite approach and turn our roadways over to the private sector. How much would they charge to drive the streets of Manhattan?

    I'm not opposed to government programs. I'd like to see people have food, shelter, clothing, education, health care and maybe a few other things. Driving the streets of Manhattan is not going to make my list of entitlements. In fact owning and driving a vehicle wont make the list either. So if the price of driving starts getting too expensive my suggestion is either stop driving or get a better job.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,329
    Turning public roads into private enterprise is just around the corner. That's what it looks like is going to happen to the Garden State Parkway and the NJ Turnpike. Rather than a sale, which was the original idea, it would be a long term lease with the expectation of significantly higher tolls.

    That one affects me much more than the Manhattan idea, especially since the part of NJ that I live in has few alternate routes.

    This all strikes me as a slippery slope.

    I will say that I've seen a privately owned bridge that worked just fine down in Florida. Out in teh panhandle there's an island that just had ferry service. The folks wanted a bridge in the worst way but teh state kept turning them down. They finally formed their own bridge authority, floated bonds and built the bridge. The state liked it so much they wanted to buy it but were turned down by the authority.

    Truth be told if the Manhattan plan goes through I'd likely not change my habits. I don't go often enough to make it a significant expense - and Philly will still be free.... Oh, and the toll you pay to get into NYC would be counted towards the mid-town fee.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,155
    It might work in places like NYC that have an excellent public transit system. However, if you live in Philadelphia with a poor system like SEPTA, you're screwed. My second job requires reliable transportation - that definately does not mean SEPTA.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    I think the public transportation system in America is a disgrace.

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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    To be fair, there hasn't been an incentive for it to be good. Cheap gas, high incomes and one huge country have historically seen to that.

    It will be interesting to see how much of a positive effect ("externality") that congestion pricing will have on public transportation in the areas where it's implemented.

    The London Underground is already a great system (though at 6 bucks a one-way ticket, it oughta be...), but I'd bet that the congestion pricing helped it be better.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,219
    I think the public transportation system in America is a disgrace

    I blame the road and highway builders lobby and AAA.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,624
    Well it might have helped if General Motors didn't buy up the Los Angeles intercity rail system, tear up the tracks, and dump the rail cars into the ocean. Yeah, it's true, it really happened.

    But they did sell Los Angeles some buses!

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,851
    This "lane leasing" idea is also in effect in Britain. The one thing that it has done is produce really well-maintained roadways. In general, I feel that most tasks that government performs, private industry could do better & cheaper.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,329
    They will be hard pressed to improve on the Garden State Parkway. Considering the volume of traffic it sees the condition is amazing.

    The turnpike on the other hand could probably be contracted to a kindergarten class and not run any worse.

    If they are going to lease these things out I;d like to see some accountability built in. Without it these are just an invitation to print money.

    I agree that public transit is mostly an abomination and for the reasons mentioned - high paying lobbyists to keep it at bay, lack of public will, cheap and plentiful gasoline... Most of us would take our won car anywhere rather than use mass transit.
  • arm51arm51 Posts: 4
    Congestion Charging is an interesting beast. I can understand how you would want to charge more or less depending on the fuel economy\size\CO2 emissions of the vehicle, but there is a point where it won't affect the amount of people bringing in high emissions cars into a congestion zone. If we look at London, one of the main reasons that Congestion Charging has worked is because of the Tube (as has been stated earlier). However, in London I believe that if you register your vehicle as a minicab, you don't have to pay the Congestion Charge. I may be wrong on this, but that is what I have heard. Also, the current push by Red Ken to increase the charge by up to £25 is ridiculous. Porsche has already stated that they would like a judicial review of the pricing proposal.
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