Op-Ed: Given the Chance, Congestion Pricing Would Ease America's Traffic Woes

Amanda Eaken offers up a defense of "Go Zones," otherwise known as congestion pricing. In Los Angeles and elsewhere, she argues, they could thin out traffic.

1 minute read

September 17, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Traffic

Sofiaworld / Shutterstock

This Friday, we took a look at the Southern California Association of Governments' 100 Hours campaign, including its controversial congestion pricing proposal for Los Angeles. Here, the NRDC's Amanda Eaken argues that the plan makes a lot of sense, and that people might warm up to it once they see it in action. 

Eaken writes, "Driving on most roads is 'free,' so we prioritize driving in the belief that we're spending zero dollars to get somewhere." But traffic entails high costs, to the driver as well as the city being driven in.

With congestion pricing, "drivers pay an automated fee to enter highly congested streets at peak hours; in return, they get the promise of smooth-flowing traffic and reliable travel times. Prices are set at the lowest possible level to free up just enough road space to eliminate bottlenecks."

Eaken cites Stockholm's congestion pricing program as an example of how drivers can warm up to an initially off-putting idea. "[M]ost drivers were confident they had favored congestion pricing all along, though a study before pricing was introduced showed 70 percent of the population was opposed."

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