The Economics of Traffic Jams

Writing in the Economix blog for the New York Times, Nancy Folbre investigates the economic impact of traffic and revives the idea of congestion pricing for Manhattan.

Traffic is an acknowledged problem for productivity and quality of life for most Americans. As Folbre reports, a recent estimate puts the cost of commuter delays alone at $100 billion in the United States.

Of the potential solutions, studies have shown that efforts to increase capacity, such as widening roads, does little to reduce congestion. According to Folbre, another potential solution being explored in New York to increase the amount of taxis in the city would slow traffic by 12%.

Ultimately Folbre returns to Congestion Pricing, which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pushed hard for in 2008, and has proven successful in London and Stockholm. And she references economist Charles Komanoff, who asserts that the opposition to Bloomberg's previous plan, "could be overcome with a clear plan to use the revenues to expand and improve public transportation in the city."

"More than $1 billion in projected annual revenues from this plan could significantly improve the bus, subway and bike-lane systems that many New Yorkers rely upon. The resulting changes could make it easier for residents of the boroughs and suburbs to get into and out of the central business district."

Full Story: Traffic Jam Economics

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