Friday, April 25, 2014

Congestion Charging – It’s about Efficiency not Revenue!

The Lexus Lane (Charles Marohn, Strong Towns, Mar. 31, 2014) Today we review an article that takes a hard look at relieving highway congestion by adding a tolled lane when traffic flow approaches or exceeds capacity. When it comes to the critical question of how best to use the revenue, many assume it is meant for road costs. The author counters that by emphasizing the more important aspect is improving the efficiency of road use, whether it is spreading the traffic volume out over the day from peak hours or changing the actual urban design using economic prompters to reduce commuting distances and moving people closer to their jobs. He also reminds us that rural roads could never pay for themselves from tolls but are there for more basic economic reasons such as mining or lumber.

A good read!

 tolls and hot lanes  

Key Quotes:

 “rural areas pay a tiny fraction of the cost of their transportation, instead relying on the financial productivity of urban areas to maintain their lifestyles and what they inappropriately label a “local economy”

“With the current highway system, we design for rush hour – for peak flow – and, ironically, we call that efficient.. for 10 minutes each day the main highways are a little congested. For the remaining 23+ hours they are vastly underutilized.”

“Where congestion pricing or mileage charges have been tried (or proposed) in this country, they have generally been about raising revenue, not optimizing the system”

“Putting a price, not just on the lane but on the time of day that lane is used, and then sequestering those funds for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of that lane, will allow the market to send a clear signal for what the high-returning investments are. This clear signal would be free of any politician, bureaucrat or interest group.”

 “by sequestering the money collected on the congestion-priced lane and using it for capacity along that corridor, we are essentially using the revenue of those willing to pay more for the capacity (not all of which will be rich) to build that capacity. The new capacity will be available for everyone (albeit at a cost).”

“the proper response to congestion is a maturing of the development pattern. It is going to provide that single mom late for the interview a lot more opportunity if she can drive across town on the congestion-priced lane OR consider a job opportunity closer to home. Our current system, which addresses peak efficiency, doesn’t optimize for job/housing location”

“A lot of farm roads, logging roads and mining routes are critical to the economy but don’t pay for themselves with their usage. Amazingly, political influence has built many of these routes beyond anything needed for farm, logging or mining”
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