Broad Road Tolling Plan Eyed As Seattle Traffic Solution

A recent report argues that tolls could provide the solution to Seattle's traffic congestion, but they would have to be very high, and very widely used.

"Widespread tolls could make chronic traffic congestion in Seattle and other cities "a thing of the past," a pioneering study says."

"Tolls could cut the average late-afternoon commute time from downtown Seattle to Tacoma by perhaps 40 percent. A typical rush-hour drive from Bellevue to Lynnwood could be trimmed by more than one-third, the Puget Sound Regional Council's 'Traffic Choices' report concludes."

"But those results would be achieved only by imposing tolls on a scale never attempted anywhere before."

"Drivers would pay a toll on almost every mile they drive - every freeway, every significant arterial. Global Positioning System (GPS) and cellular technology would track their travels. Tolls would be deducted from prepaid accounts."

Full Story: Wide use of tolls could unclog roads, Seattle study says



Paying the price of denial and foot-dragging in Seattle

The fact that Seattle is resorting to such drastic traffic control measures is the price the region’s residents must now pay for so many years… indeed decades… of denial and foot-dragging about building a serious transit system. Of all the major West Coast cities, Seattle has been the singularly most resistant to developing alternatives to automobile transport. The region’s voters themselves voted down several rail transit proposals in the past dating back to the late 1960s. The belated truncated light rail “system” now under construction should have been started decades ago (at one tenth the current cost). Regrettably, a once-beautiful urban region is now paved over with hundreds of square miles of automobile-oriented sprawl, choking in the resultant auto traffic.

Charging motorists hefty user fees on the region’s roads and highways will merely shift traffic on to arterial and even on to local residential streets, since there is almost no other choice in the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett region but to drive cars and SUVs. It is also a regressive tax, placing a disproportionate financial burden on those (who still must drive their cars) but can least afford it. The Seattle region, I fear, has really painted itself into a corner, ill-prepared for a new world of congestion pricing and $8-a-gallon gasoline. All this in a city which is fond of portraying itself as a leader in being “green”…?

Toll-Everywhere Pricing Coming In Netherlands?

The most interesting statement in this article is:

"The study also could influence policy elsewhere. The Dutch government, which plans to adopt systemwide tolling, has followed it closely, Kitchen says."

I hadn't heard that the Dutch government plans to adopt systemwide tolling. Once it happens in one place, it will also happen in many other places. The most obvious candidates are nations (such as China) with rapidly growing auto ownership and with population densities so high that their cities cannot accommodate everyone driving.

Charles Siegel

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