Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why are City Politicians Nervous when Congestion Charging Comes Up?

The political calculus of congestion pricing: credible commitments, hostages and opportunities for implementation (33 page pdf, David A. King, Transport Futures Mobility Pricing Conference, Feb, 2011)

Also discussed here: For Whom the Road Tolls - The Politics Of Congestion Pricing (6 page pdf, David King, Michael Manville, and Donald Shoup, Access, Fall 2007)

The reason why congestion charging is seen as political suicide is the focus for today’s post based on a survey of municipal politicians and urban planners in Los Angeles. Among the reasons for objections is a feeling of mistrust between the municipality and state on sharing revenue as well as the feeling that congestion on city streets comes mainly from freeways that cross cities and not from conditions on the streets themselves, and notably the lack of confidence on where congestion charging revenue would be spent. That confidence can be built by emulating London’s example of improving public transit before implementing tolls.

Key Quotes:

“Congestion pricing is a policy that features immediate pain (i.e. tolls) and future gains (reduced congestion) which is also uncertain – Any policy that has immediate costs and future benefits in politically difficult”

“Local opposition to pricing can block any efforts to implement a project, but the revenue can be used to generate support only if the potential benefits from the revenue are assured and seen as fair”

“Returning congestion tolls revenues to cities creates political champions that will actively support tolling”

“Equity concerns are real. Some people will be lose mobility as the cost of auto travel increases. No one has ever done much about remediating inequity, however”

“Invest prior to implementation in areas that generate support – London used tolls to improve transit (new buses)”
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