Congestion Pricing: The Key to Better Transit?

Noah Kazis describes the explosive success of transit systems in London, Stockholm, and Singapore, and suggests that charging motorists for road use is the secret ingredient that keeps ridership high and public support strong.

Transportation officials from around the world came together on Friday for a transit panel at the annual conference of the Regional Plan Association, an independent planning organization for the Tri-State Area. Some of the most exciting developments came out of London, Stockholm, and Singapore – each with major investments underway for their passenger rail systems.

Kazis notes that a common thread running through all three of these cities is their use of congestion pricing – that is, adaptive tolls that rise and fall with the intensity of traffic, levied on motorists for the use of busy streets.

"London's phenomenal growth in bus ridership, for example, can be significantly attributed to the fact that surface transit doesn't have to sit in gridlocked traffic, thanks to the city's congestion charge," writes Kazis. "Analyst Kenneth Small estimates that in the typical American city, bus ridership would jump 31 percent due to the introduction of congestion pricing, without bus service even receiving any of the revenues."

Officials in New York, however, are skeptical of the political viability of such measures in the States. "It is a tough political row to hoe," said former MTA chief Lee Sander, who moderated the panel.

Thanks to Noah Kazis

Full Story: What’s the Secret to World-Class Transit Systems? Congestion Pricing

Comments

Comments

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Pricing Driving

I think that's what it all comes down to. Attach a price to driving, and driving is reduced, transit and other alternatives are increased.

We attach a price to transit - and the only rational for taking it, as opposed to driving, is that it might make more economic sense - so you have to weigh the transit charge against parking charges, tolls, and time spent in congestion.

Applying a price to the actual driving changes the equation entirely.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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