The Case for Congestion Pricing

CongestionPricing-DoesItReallyHaveToComeToThis?Excerpted from Streetsblog LA January 16, 2019: “At today’s meeting of L.A. Metro’s Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, UCLA professor Michael Manville made a convincing case for implementing congestion pricing”

Excerpted from the Los Angeles Times January 22, 2019: “For years, Southern California lawmakers have tried to steer clear of decisions that make driving more expensive or miserable, afraid of angering one of their largest groups of constituents.

“But now, transportation officials say, congestion has grown so bad in Los Angeles County that politicians have no choice but to contemplate charging motorists more to drive — a strategy that has stirred controversy but helped cities in other parts of the world tame their own traffic. The [LA] Metropolitan Transportation Authority is pushing to study how what’s commonly referred to as congestion pricing could work in L.A….” 

BATWG is dedicated to reviving Bay Area public transit systems and decreasing its traffic backups. We believe that the first step is to provide new and better alternatives to solo-driving. Getting this right would require not only better operation and integration of transit lines and services but also a better operating environment for trains and buses, including transit-only and 3+ HOV lanes…at least during the peak driving hours. Unfortunately there are some places where it would be difficult and expensive to fit in lanes reserved for buses and other high occupancy vehicles; hence the interest in LA and elsewhere to improve transit and then phase in incentives to drive less.

Los Angeles is obviously struggling with these kinds of problems; hence the new interest in congestion pricing in that vast and traffic-soaked county. If there was congestion pricing and if the proceeds were used properly, the non-automotive modes of travel would receive a new source of funding and the traffic backups would ease. However, first the current waste and misuse of scarce transportation resources must stop. The first step is for local and regional governments to prove they can deliver.

Until that great day arrives commuters and other travelers will continue to move with increasing sluggishness along highways for long distances, spending thousands of dollars a year on travel, including the “hidden” costs that many drivers fail to take into account. Less congestion would result in huge travel time savings for both bus riders and motorists. Congestion pricing would therefore benefit everyone, particularly those of inadequate means who are now obliged to drive long distances. Highway tolling and/or congestion pricing are long overdue in places like Los Angeles County and the Bay Area.

This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 10. Click here to go back to the newsletter.