Congestion Pricing And Equity

Is congestion pricing unfair to poor people? Rand has released an Environmental Defense Fund-sponsored report, "Equity and Congestion Pricing" that attempts to answer this question and report on other equity-related aspects of congestion pricing.
June 3, 2009, 2pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Congestion pricing to improve traffic flow is most effective when transportation planners incorporate equity goals into the early planning stages of a pricing program, according to a new study produced by the RAND Corporation and sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)."

"This study of all the literature on the subject shows that congestion pricing can reduce congestion, reduce air pollution and improve mobility and access for everyone. Planners just have to design the system with these (equity) goals in mind," said Kathryn Phillips, an EDF transportation policy advocate."

Congestion pricing "policies impose a cost on driving in a location that previously was free, critics often suggest that it will disproportionately impact lower-income drivers, so some would be "priced off" the roads."

"Fortunately, these potential inequities can be offset. Three methods to promote equitable outcomes include revenue redistribution and discounts and exemptions."

From Report (Preface):
"Transportation policymakers are increasingly considering congestion pricing a promising option for addressing urban traffic-congestion problems. While some congestion pricing
projects have been undertaken in the United States, many proposals have been rejected based on worries that congestion pricing is inequitable. The goal of this report is to look at the evidence that might support or negate this claim."

Thanks to Kathryn Phillips

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, June 2, 2009 in Environmental Defense Fund - Press Release
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