It’s Time to Embrace Congestion Pricing

Charging based on demand and for access is commonplace—except on roads.

1 minute read

October 28, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


ilozavr / Shutterstock

"Riding the Metro at peak time, splurging on an additional fee to avoid the lunch line, receiving a discount for seeing a movie when few others choose to—we accept congestion pricing as a normal feature of everyday life," writes DJ Gribbin. So why, he wonders, is congestion pricing on roads consistently met with such resistance?

The time, economic, and environmental benefits of such strategies are clear, says Gribbin. And a variety of mechanisms exist for implementing congestion pricing, including managed lanes, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and cordon pricing. 

But a lack of action at the state and federal levels means cities have to step up to put congestion pricing into place on roadways. Gribbin points to the cordon pricing coming to New York City in 2021, a plan expected to generate $1.1 billion a year for transit service improvements. Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles are also exploring congestion pricing options. "If all goes well, commuters in these three cities will have the ability to recover some of the 70 to 120 hours lost to congestion every year while reducing their environmental impact," he adds.

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