Should NY Transit Be Free?

Charles Komanoff, an economist, analyst and activist in New York, has created an elaborate spreadsheet looking at the cost of congestion to the city. His conclusion? Free transit and congestion pricing would relieve traffic.

July 7, 2009, 2:00 PM PDT

By Tim Halbur


Komanoff and writer Felix Salmon get particularly wonky with the stats in this article - transportation planners will find a lot to chew on.

"Medallion taxis do not pay the congestion charge, but there is a 33% taxi-fare surcharge. One tenth of that (around 3%) goes to the taxi drivers and owners; the rest (30%) goes to the MTA; the taxi surcharge alone raises enough money to make in-city commuter rail free.

Add it all up, and it's pretty much revenue-neutral, says Komanoff: the biggest line items are that you lose $1.46 billion in transit fares, while gaining $1.31 billion in congestion charges. But total time savings are the biggie: implement this plan and New Yorkers get over $2.5 billion of time back which would otherwise be spent wasted in traffic. Vehicle speeds in general rise about 20%, and as much as 25% between 9am and 10am."

Friday, July 3, 2009 in Reuters Blogs

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Assistant or Associate Professor of Urban Design

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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