The Puget Sound Regional Council released a study called “Traffic Choices” that shows that congestion pricing could alleviate traffic congestion. My question is, they needed a $3.1 million study to show that? It’s pretty obvious that if you start charging $13.41 people to drive to work, they’ll decide to drive less.
What’s also obvious to me, but apparently not to most other liberal environmentalists in this region, is that the moment you start this tolling scheme on existing roads, Tim Eyman passes an initiative repealing the laws, and a brand new wave of anti-tolling, anti-congestion pricing politicians sweep into office and undo the whole bloody thing.
I do like the sound of this:
Over 30 years, the report estimates, tolls could generate $87 billion in today’s dollars. The fairness of any regional road-tolling scheme would depend to a great extent on how those dollars are spent, Kitchen says.
The study confirms higher-income people — people who could most afford the tolls — would benefit most if regionwide road pricing were adopted for real. As for the less affluent, “they’re worse off unless you do something beneficial with that [toll] revenue,” Kitchen says.
It could be used for road improvements, or better transit service. Or it could allow policymakers to roll back other taxes, perhaps the gas tax or vehicle-excise taxes.
$87 billion is a lot of rail, but I doubt we’ll ever get 30 years of this sort of tolling. Congestion pricing is a great idea in theory, but in practice it’s going to push new development annd businesses far out into areas where the congestion pricing isn’t in effect, and it’ll be political suicide for whoever implements the plan unless alternatives are built long before the plan is put in place.
Let’s stick to realistic things we can do now, like build light rail to the Eastside, Northgate and Kent.