Traffic Restraint As Alternative to Congestion Pricing

Yonah Freemark reports that there are more politically palatable ways to ease traffic congestion than congestion pricing.
October 10, 2010, 1pm PDT | George Haugh
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In 2003, London implemented a congestion charge on drivers entering its central business district. The scheme was a success, generating revenues for mass transit and decreasing car movements in the mandated zone 39% while increasing ridership across railways, underground and buses.

However, The 2008 effort to institute a similar plan in New York fell to its feet in the face of organized political opposition. Freemark explains an alternative strategy, similar to the one adopted in Paris, whereby the city simply makes driving more difficult through the addition and expansion of bicycle and bus lanes, and increased parking costs. Even with no clear financial reason to stop driving, "the city saw a 17% decrease in driving between 2002 and 2007."

Freemark notes, "Paris' accomplishment, though not as large in percentage change as London's, was arguably more significant since it affected the entire city of 41 square miles, versus the original eight square miles of the London congestion zone (later roughly doubled)."

Freemark suggests that this could be an alternative for progressive US cities where congestion pricing is still politically unthinkable.

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Published on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 in the transport politic
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