Traffic on Stewart Street (Sounder Bruce – Flickr)

If done right, congestion pricing can reduce pollution and improve mobility.

by HESTER SEREBRIN, Policy Director, Transportation Choices Coalition

Seattle has a traffic problem. According to the 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, Seattle is the 6th most congested city in the country, robbing people who drive 138 hours and nearly $2,000 annually. 

Congestion also contributes to our climate crisis, with 66% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from road transportation. Commutes will only get longer and pollution worse as our city grows unless we take decisive action. Cities across the world, facing similar dilemmas, are considering congestion pricing, the only proven tool to reduce congestion. Pricing is also a tool that can be used to achieve other outcomes like mitigating local air and water pollution, and creating progressive revenue structures to support healthier and safer mobility options. While cordon pricing, charging people to drive to or within a downtown area, is the most well-known form of congestion pricing, pricing is flexible and we can find a structure that best meets our goals.

Last Thursday, the City of Seattle released a congestion pricing phase one report that provides case studies and potential pricing tools to inform Seattle’s policy development and engagement process as we explore congestion pricing. The report evaluates a variety of possible pricing scenarios based on criteria related to equity, climate and health, traffic congestion, and implementation, and outlines a process for engaging with stakeholders to ensure benefits accrue to communities who need them most. We all now have an opportunity to help shape a progressive plan that is still in the early stages of policy development.

Transportation Choices Coalition is working to bring more and better transportation choices to Washington State, improving access and mobility for all. As the report identifies, our current transportation system is inequitable, drawing from regressive revenue sources, struggling to provide affordable and reliable options to those pushed out by growth, and creating poor air quality disproportionately in communities of color. We believe that if done right, congestion pricing has the ability to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and generate progressive revenue to reinvest in a robust transportation system. There are understandable concerns that a poorly planned pricing system could hurt low-income communities and communities of color, and our priority is to develop a congestion pricing policy rooted in equity.  

Here’s what we want to see next from Seattle’s congestion pricing process:

  1. Equitable engagement process with a broad coalition. The only path to an equitable policy is an inclusive process. Using best practices from the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit to support and incorporate community input, a strong outreach program will help identify strategies that ensure community concerns are met, such as privacy, language and technology barriers, and affordability. A broad and regional coalition of business, labor, social justice, environmental, health, and transportation organizations must come together to help shape the policy. 
  2. Robust transportation choices are in place on day one. To provide real alternatives to driving downtown, a richer set of transportation services and infrastructure must be in place before pricing begins. Investments made now in expanding regional public transit service create better access and offer people an affordable and reliable set of options. Data and engagement will help us understand priority investment areas. 
  3. Progressive pricing system. To understand the impacts of congestion pricing on workers, low-income people and communities of color, it is important to have a robust understanding of who currently drives downtown, especially during peak hours. Displacement continues to push people further away from the city center, and it’s critical to build a fair policy that ensures those with long commutes and few transit options are able to access the opportunities Seattle’s downtown provides. This means implementing a truly progressive pricing plan. To truly advance transportation equity, not just mitigate harm, policy development should explore the extent to which new revenue could replace regressive transportation funding mechanisms like sales tax. 
  4. Reinvestment in sustainable transportation. Congestion pricing revenue should be directed towards funding an accessible and affordable transit, walking, and biking networks, connecting our transportation system throughout the region. 

Streets are not free. They are built and maintained at a significant public expense and externalities in the form of air and stormwater pollution, traffic collisions and serious injuries, and lost time spent in traffic. It’s time we better manage our limited road space through a progressive pricing plan and invest in a sustainable multimodal transportation system that serves everyone.

Transportation Choices Coalition is working to bring Washingtonians more and better transportation choices — real opportunities to take a bus, catch a train, ride a bike, or walk.

63 Replies to “How Seattle can shape an equitable congestion pricing plan”

  1. I see a geographical logic gap in the argument here — connecting our region’s generalized congestion with pricing that affects just one area. I’m not convinced that as a small area, Downtown Seattle is a localized congestion problem severe enough to warrant specific extra pricing. It just does not seem as bad as Central London or Manhattan or San Francisco. Our region’s congestion seems more related to delays on long stretches of our freeway system , which would only be indirectly addressed by localized congestion pricing Downtown.

    1. Our homeless problem is not as bad as Calcutta’s, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Congestion in downtown Seattle is a real problem. It hurts businesses, and people who simply want to get from one place to the other (via transit). Congestion pricing is a relatively simple and elegant way to mitigate it. There are issues, but it would be foolish to not consider it.

      1. I don’t see many congestion pricing strategies as simple or elegant. Many require installation of equipment on every vehicle that must be managed by an account. A surcharge on Downtown parking is much more simple and elegant than zoned city street tolling is.

        I’m also really bothered by users paying for things and not property owners/ developers who save millions by not provide parking but are not paying into substituted projects like more station elevators and escalators, more pedestrian walkways and station entrances, and dedicated building vaults that can be used by future Link trains or riders. I see that the equity arguments portray only a poor-rich debate and not an employer/owner-user debate, which is actually a much bigger income disparity.

      2. OK, so on the one hand you are saying there isn’t a problem, but on the other hand, you are ready for a different solution (taxing parking downtown). There are issues with both approaches. As you mentioned, setting up tolls for a downtown like Seattle could be problematic (a place like Manhattan is much simpler, because it has so few entrances). That is why we need to study, to see if it could be practical. That is my point — it is silly to dismiss the idea without at least seeing if it could work.

        Meanwhile, charging for parking also has issues. It doesn’t address the real issue, for one. Much of the time, there is no congestion downtown. At 3:00 AM, no one cares how many cars are going to or through downtown. At noon, it is a much smaller problem compared to 9:00 AM. Yet parking can’t possibly deal with that. At best you could charge more for parking on weekdays, but that still doesn’t address whether someone parked at noon (when traffic wasn’t an issue) or 8:00 AM. You also don’t address people who simply drive through downtown, with no interest in parking there. This is common, and contributes to congestion. It is also likely to increase as we toll SR 99. By the way, somehow I think the state will be able to properly deal with the complexities of tolling that road, and not revert to charging for parking.

        As for users versus owners, you do realize we have a property tax in this state, right? This would be just one of many taxes that fall on users (e. g. a tobacco tax). But I suppose we shouldn’t have a tobacco tax, and instead charge store owners that aren’t doing enough to discourage people from smoking.

      3. Congestion hurts businesses. Mostly true.
        Charging people a fee to get to those businesses will help those businesses. False.

        Equitable pricing? Buzzword for giving preferential treatment.

        Instead of continuing to dig through job workers pockets for more money, make the alternative more attractive than the current method. If the goal is to have people take transit instead of driving, make transit more attractive than driving, in convenience, time, security, cleanliness and feeling comfortable. Right now, public transit is nowhere near as attractive as driving. For me, and I can guarantee it’s the same for a majority of the working class, driving is the best method. Why on earth would I take a bus (three actually) for 90 minutes to work at a very populous work center when I can drive in 15-20? Again, people have the process backwards. Forcing people to use transit or pay even more, will just lead to disgruntled taxpayers. If transit worked, and people switched on their own accord without force / pressure, I can guarantee transit would expand significantly.

      4. Instead of continuing to dig through job workers pockets for more money, make the alternative more attractive than the current method. If the goal is to have people take transit instead of driving, make transit more attractive than driving, in convenience, time, security, cleanliness and feeling comfortable.

        Great idea. How will we pay for that? I know, how about a congestion tax? Seriously, that is where the money is going. It is a carrot and stick approach. Tax people for doing something that hurts society (just as we tax tobacco use) and spend that money on something that benefits it.

        Oh, and no matter how “clean, comfortable and secure” transit is, there will still be people who prefer driving, for whatever reason. These people are largely well to do, white men (see previous study). Taxing relatively wealthy, powerful people bothers me a lot less than taxing those who drink soda pop (and I’m not bothered at all by the latter). If you want to do something luxurious which also hurts everyone (and driving downtown during rush hour is both) then you should pay extra.

    2. Freeway congestion should be directly addressed by decongestion pricing in downtown Seattle, insofar as car trips to downtown (~25% of all trips) decrease. I think referring to our largest job center, which draw people from literally the entire reason (something like 10% of all commuters from Marysville drive into Seattle), as a ‘localized congestion pricing’ is inaccurate.

      Unclogging local streets may not help I5 flow faster during commute times, but it should benefit the many bus routes that travel through downtown Seattle.

      Seattle is the best place to start because there is sufficient multi-modal infrastructure to give people an alternative. Applying a congestion toll on, say, 405 doesn’t do at much good because the vast majority of trips on that corridor are not currently well served by transit.

      1. GK, you do not specify to WHICH “very populous work center” you commute daily in just FIFTEEN short minutes that is ninety intolerable minutes from your home on three buses.

        I’ll bet a significant amount — would $25 tempt you to specify your home and work locations — or are you just another selfish autoista troll?

        You don’t have to give addresses; neighborhoods will do fine.

        I doubt you’ll take the offer.

    3. Seattle drivers spend slightly more time in traffic than in New York or LA, and significantly more than SF.

      Downtown Seattle has 262,000 commuters, about 25% of whom drive alone (so 65,500) plus another 26,000 ride share . Traffic backs up onto the freeway because the streets downtown can’t handle that kind of capacity at rush hour.

      I’m not 100% sold on congestion pricing for other reasons, but the basic geographic idea is very sound. Seattle metro employment is heavily concentrated downtown.

  2. I’m not sure why the poor that live in the outskirts can’t drive to the same Park and Ride the non-poor people do to commute to DT Seattle. Transit can be accessed to get downtown and still include a driving leg. I’m not sure why poor people are treated like some helpless baby who can’t find a park and ride and need to drive downtown just because they are poor.

    If they work outside transit hours, sure. But for rush hour?

    1. FYI: The buses and parking lots are at capacity in the morning commutes… just so you know.

      Hester is right to call for waiting until at least ST2 comes around. She doesn’t come out and say it but when she writes with my emphasis, “To provide real alternatives to driving downtown, a richer set of transportation services and infrastructure must be in place before pricing begins,” it’s pretty obvious.

      Clearly if Tim Eyman were to put a ban on such a scheme on the ballot, it would sail through. Perhaps Eyman should instead of trying to defund our transit…

      1. Yes, there are people who drive from P&R to another looking for a space, and then give up and drive downtown, and stop checking the P&Rs. Getting them back to the P&Rs will take some work.

    2. To address this properly we’d need to know how many poor people do drive downtown at rush hour or midday, where they live, and why they’re driving. In some cases you’d find there’s no feasible transit option because of where they live or some other reason. Real people fall through the cracks when you just assume all poor people can do this or that, because it turns out some of them can’t.

      1. So what, Mike? Life isn’t fair. If a few hundred “poor” people who drive during the daytime to (ipso facto) “low-paying” jobs can’t, that is a reasonable cost to have the system work better. They’ll find equivalent jobs in the ‘burbs, and other little-skilled people with access to transit will take their places downtown.

        MOST of those who drive daily are hardly ‘poor”.

        Caveat: the cordon must be down for entering cars by say 8:00 so that the folks who maintain the buildings and often go home at 5:00 AM aren’t affected.

      2. Life isn’t fair but public policy should be. There’s a difference between chance events that harm someone and government neglect or malice that harms someone. This is a democracy where everyone is supposed to be treated equally. So the government should not just assume the assertions you make but look to see whether they’re accurate.

      3. This type of study is needed, however, the primary goal of any congestion pricing policy is (or at least should be!) to address congestion. Equity is important, but perhaps better addressed in the “back end,” largely independent of the congestion pricing structure itself. Similar to how ORCA Lift works with transit fares. Fares are set to cover a certain percentage of the costs, but we subsidized rides for some people.

  3. I realize that the article was placed in the questionable news site National Review, but this article appeared there yesterday:

    In it, it makes the argument that taking bicycle lanes is disproportionately for white males under 45. Since the decrease of travel lanes for bicycles has contributed to Downtown congestion, could someone argue that bicycle interests have a looming racial and gender and age equity pushback coming?

    1. So you are saying that a National Review editorial made a claim without citing any data to back it up? Shocking.

      I suppose I’ll do a little research, since the boys (and yes, they are almost all boys) at National Review can’t bother. Here are a couple reports:, The data is old, but old data is better than none. A few key elements stand out:

      1) Driving is still the primary way that people commute.
      2) People of color and women commute using public transit at a higher rate.
      3) White people bike more than people of color, but the difference is small, and shrinking.
      4) A relatively small number of people commute by bike.

      Based on the first couple items, it is clear that white men make up a disproportionate amount of the commuters traveling by car. Given the data, I would say this is true by a wide margin. Therefore, spending on roads disproportionately benefits those individuals. Is National Review suggesting we spend less money on roads, and more on transit? Or it is just that they are desperately trying to follow Fox News into attacking cities as misguided bastions of bad governance?

      Oh, by the way, tobacco taxes are amongst the most regressive, hitting poor and minorities very hard. Should be get rid of those for the same reason?

      1. Another reply that didn’t get placed under the original comment. This was meant to reply to Al’s last comment.

      2. Two comments:

        Equity discussions are different for transit users than for bicyclists. The two can’t be lumped together from an equity standpoint.

        I’d be more concerned about the appearance of young white male bias than the actual reporting itself. Sowing division between communities of color and white progressives has been a go-to strategy in recent years.

        That said, I do think that the bicycle advocates appear to put more effort in wanting to punish driving more than build more grass-roots support and enlarging the number of users. Subsidizing bicycle purchases and repairs and rentals would seem to be a heck of a lot cheaper and probably more effective at increasing bicycle use than creating more congestion by taking away congested travel lanes at a significant capital cost.

      3. “Residents who have access to a working bicycle are more likely to be white, male, and under 45 years of age,” the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) found. “Older residents and non-white residents are the least likely to have access to a working bicycle.”

        Oh dear, bicycles are so expensive. Never mind that the poorest countries have a large bike commute mode share. How much does a car cost again? Who are the least likely to have access to a working car? Maybe not older residents, but maybe non-white residents, and probably low-income residents.

        “Is National Review suggesting we spend less money on roads, and more on transit? Or it is just that they are desperately trying to follow Fox News into attacking cities as misguided bastions of bad governance?”

        I haven’t read National Review but its editor is one of the panelists on “Left, Right, and Center”, and it seems to be one of the most reasonable conservative voices out there (plus David Frum of The Atlantic, who seems to be the best). So I wouldn’t expect it to be following Fox News hysteria. This may just be one person throwing out a half-baked idea.

      4. Equity discussions are different for transit users than for bicyclists. The two can’t be lumped together from an equity standpoint.

        What???? Why not? Look, I’m merely pointing out that the “Seattle spends too much money on bikes because white men are the only ones who bike” is ridiculous on two fronts. First, it is ridiculous because it isn’t true. It isn’t just white men who bike. Second, if carried to its logical conclusion, the big failure is spending money on general roadway improvements instead of transit specific projects. General roadway improvements benefit white men way more than bike improvements. Just look at the data. Transit improvements help people of color and women by a much bigger margin. Yet every day, we spend way more on roads for regular cars than we spend on transit.

        That said, I do think that the bicycle advocates appear to put more effort in wanting to punish driving more than build more grass-roots support and enlarging the number of users.

        Citation please. Seriously, please tell me where Seattle Bike Blog is trying to “punish drivers”. Use the latest controversy as an example (35th). This is not only a big issue, but a very large one — probably the biggest in years. How the hell is building bike lanes “punishing” drivers? The simple answer is it isn’t. It actually benefits drivers! Look at the article based on video of what is happening ( As a driver, I hate that (see my comment towards the end). The city has created a very dangerous situation for both bikers and drivers. Bike advocates simply want to make the roads safe. Of course there are conflicts between uses, just as there are when transit advocates want to “take” a lane. But no one is trying to “punish” drivers. We simply want better transit.

      5. Really Ross? Surely it’s repeatedly proven that the demographics of transit are much more female, more low income, more people of color, more mobility-limited, more likely sick headed to a doctor and more likely making longer distance trips than ones using a bicycle. They are very different and logically cannot be lumped together in equity discussions. It’s very obvious to me.

      6. Link is also whiter and more middle-class than parallel bus routes. Does that mean we shouldn’t have built Link. Even if it’s true that bike rides are whiter and younger than others, that’s a transient issue. In the Netherlands all kinds of people bicycle, a third of the population. When we have more comprehensive bike infrastructure like we have streets for cars, then we’ll see more kinds of people bike. Some kinds of people are just early adopters of 21st-century changes, as we’ve seen not only in transit and rail but also in urban neighborhoods and smartphones. That’s partly because they can afford to, but beyond that they’re making the choice when they didn’t have to.

      7. I thought driving alone was decidedly *not* the way most people commute in to the downtown area where the congestion pricing would be?

    2. LOL! The goons at National Review fooled you, didn’t they? They don’t give a rodent’s hindquarters about “harming Blacks”, they just want to “stick it to the libs” in any way they can. If they can get 1% of African Americans to listen to their concern troll, they’ve racked up a win.

  4. At some point (which we are nearing) the whole “equity” portion of this discussion is a ridiculously distracting element. Existential crises probably require unfair solutions…since, if the planet can no longer support human endeavors, it seems like an unholy luxury to talk about anything but the technical aspects of immediate, cold mathematical solutions. As someone else pointed out, alcohol and tobacco “sin” taxes and laws could also be considered inequitable, but who gives a flying popsicle, because you’re healthy lungs and liver will thank you and reduce the health care burden on an overtaxed system.

    1. This. And in addition, by making these equity concerns a top priority, you are inviting the issue to be over politicized and take another decade (and another 30% increase in cars…) to actually happen.

    2. Communities of color and low-income communities are already disproportionately paying the price of environmental destruction. Without considering equity as a central part of a congestion pricing (or other climate policy), those communities will continue to be disproportionately harmed, while I suspect at least some wealthier people will just keep paying for the pleasure of driving. Investing in actual equitable solutions now will benefit everyone, in my opinion. I reject the idea that equitable solutions are somehow not effective as well.

      1. When the house is burning down I don’t want to distract the firefighters as they are pulling out survivors with my non-firefighting expertise. Our planet is burning down, and unless you wouldn’t mind seeing extinction level changes, then let the scientists and technocrats do their work without worrying about the parts that aren’t actually heating up the planet. We have blown past the time of having the luxury of being totally fair to everyone.

  5. Point 4 is the most critical one, in my opinion. Congestion pricing is vital—yet to make it fair, we have to use the revenue from it to help those it will hurt the most. Our transit agencies are already using equity tools as part of their planning processes; their weight should be reinforced when the agencies are thinking about how to deploy congestion pricing revenue.

    Point 3, on the other hand, requires a lot of care. It’s very easy for a well-meaning set of mitigations, originally intended to help those with the greatest need, to turn into a special perk for an arbitrary class. I’d much rather see more reinvestment in transit than any sort of exception, rebate, or refund baked into the congestion pricing scheme.

    1. Exactly. There may be two or three hundred “poor” people who drive into downtown Seattle during what would be the peak pricing time, but their claim to be poor is a stretch, just because of the cost of parking.

      The folks who clean the office buildings come and go during the night hours when the cordon should just be down.

  6. Here is a list of groups who I think may get discounts or exemptions:

    Public transit. Carpools. Non-public buses. Emergency Vehicles. On-duty city, county and state workers. Any on-duty public employee. People with disability placards. People who work for non-profits. People going to or from hospitals. People who are homeless and live in their vehicle. Any people who is homeless and driving. The low income. People who live in the zone. Low emission vehicles. Taxis and ride share vehicles.

    Does anyone care to add to my list?

    1. The only ones of those that can be determined in “real-time” are “public transit vehicles”, “non-public buses”, “taxis” and “emergency vehicles”. The other “classes” — including “ride-share vehicles”– are not reliably identifiable.

      So how do you propose that they would be “exempted”?

      1. Ride share vehicles are exempt in London. And one would pre-qualify for the exemption, so when driving in the zone, their vehicle won’t be billed. Or if it is billed, it will get dismissed.

      2. Thank you for responding, Sam. I would object to all of those non-public exemptions except “those who live in the zone” and that only one time per day. And MAYBE blue tags.

    2. “People going to/from hospitals” — is First Hill (Harborview and Swedish) actually in the congestion zone?
      “Taxis and ride share vehicles” — no! Let the cost be passed on to the riders to encourage 1) transit use, and 2) drivers to only enter the congestion zone when they actually have a fare. If it’s a choice between driving yourself or taking an Uber, in practice it is usually parking and alcohol considerations that make this decision.

    3. As a downtown non-profit worker, I do not support such an exemption. A much better alternative is to provide free transit passes for non-profit employees. Many organizations strugggle to provide this benefit that similar private sector workers get.

  7. the Washington Legislature has the power to impose variable tolls on the limited access highway network. it has been under discussion since the blue ribbon commission in 2000. little progress has been made. the SR-520 tolling was successful, but has led to expected diversion of traffic to other highways and to improved transit flow and ridership. the Legislature has been using toll revenue to build capital (e.g., SR-16, SR-520, and now I-405); they have tolled HOT lanes and left some general-purpose lanes (e.g., SR-167 and I-405). the network approach would be best: all lanes. the rates could be set to divert enough traffic to avoid congestion. at off-peak times, the rates could be nominal or zero.

    the Seattle TBD may have power to impose tolls within the CBD. the London example is strong. the most important result was improved flow; the revenue is secondary.

    Seattle need not wait for ST2 Link implementation in 2021, 2023, and 2024. transit service is robust now and would improve with better flow in the CBD. the slower running times of today take more buses to provide any given headway and are less attractive to potential riders.

    It would be interesting to research whether poor households drive in the CBD at peak times; parking is very costly. given land values, parking is probably increasing in price.

    1. Transit service is hardly robust now. It barely squeaks by as functional.most of the so called experts on here are completely blinded by their anti car zealotry. This site just gets more and more humorous.

      1. It’s not really anti-car zealotry. It’s that most commenters here live in Seattle city limits and they think that transit everywhere is like it is in the city. I’ve seen some rather extreme cluelessness about the nature of suburban and rural transit from folks here. A couple weeks ago, for example, a commenter here was genuinely surprised that bus lines in Skagit County were timed to all arrive at the station at the same time for easy transfers – Every rural transit service does this, as do most suburban ones.

        Within Seattle city limits, transit service IS pretty robust. It isn’t anywhere else.

  8. The politically expedient way to do congestion is probably to tax Uber and Lyft, while people who drive their own car downtown get a free ride. Reasons:
    1) People have been driving downtown long before Uber and Lyft existed, hence they feel entitled to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the past 50 years.
    2) Uber and Lyft make tempting scapegoats, since they’re large corporations, and public opinion of them on the left is unfavorable, due to the way they treat their drivers
    3) The overhead of collecting the tax is small, since no physical infrastructure is required.
    4) Fewer people ride Uber and Lyft cars downtown than drive their own car downtown, hence fewer people would be paying.
    5) Most of the public has been conditioned to believe that being driven is a luxury service, while driving one’s own car is just what everybody does, rich or poor.

  9. New York got congestion pricing because the money will be able to fix a pressing problem: the broken subway system. We pay tools on the 520 bridge and on 405 express lanes because they buy us something highly visible.

    The question is: what does Seattle congestion pricing buy us?

    My suggestion: the city right now is looking for money to build tunnels to Ballard and West Seattle.

    Many people who might not want tolls, and may not even be in favor of more transit spending would be in favor of putting light rail underground to avoid displacing homes. It’s the same argument that sold the big bertha tunnel.

    Right now the polling on congestion pricing is very bad (something like 70% opposed), so unless it’s attached to some popular project, there is no way it will pass.

  10. I think Seattle needs to enact zoning that befits a city that’s serious about providing housing closer to jobs. Congestion pricing absent that is hypocritical posturing.

  11. The infrastructure isn’t that hard to implement. In fact I believe (conspiracy theory perhaps) that one of the motivations for doing this is to get everyone to have a Good2Go sticker/account. Possible technical problem is the license plate reading cameras are going to have a much harder go of it with bumper to bumper traffic than on HOT lanes or the 520 Bridge. And from what I’ve heard the transponder technology really needs the camera back-up. The possible technical problems though are a good reason to start the program sooner rather than later. Otherwise these issues won’t get resolved.

    There is zero reason to provide income based relief for congestion pricing. We already provide reduced transit fares based on income (and age which is a different pet peeve).

    There’s no reason congestion pricing and a property tax on parking spaces can’t both be implemented. It hardly seems fair though to tax something that was mandated. So, in the interest of fairness, eliminate parking minimums in the areas that are taxed. Ooo, what do you think that’s going to do to the amount of available parking and the rates charged!

    Finally, all of the revenue generated needs to flow back into transit improvements for the areas that generate the revenue. Something akin to ST sub-area equity. If this degrades into a social justice tax then I’m dead set against it. And, unfortunately, I think it all to likely that King County Democrats will divert all of the “free money” to their Homeless Industrial Complex.

  12. White men aren’t the only bicyclists, but we make up a disproportionate percentage of bicyclists in American cities. I’d say that the forward thinking response to this is not to ignore or deny it. There are people who think that owning and operating a car is a sign of being grown up. What’s useful is making biking cheap, attractive and safe for people in all communities.

  13. Congestion pricing is a tricky one because it’s city revenue that is going to be collected predominantly from people living outside of city limits. The overwhelming majority of Seattle residents already have public transportation options to downtown. Unless we’re planning to run buses to every inch of the suburbs, this is going to seriously disrupt the lives of many people who were already priced out of Seattle. It needs to disrupt people to be effective. The key is figuring out who is driving to downtown because it’s convenient vs. those who have to because there is no other choice. It seems like the report gets that basic premise so I’m happy with what they have done so far.

    I strongly oppose giving anyone a discount–that’s just asking for the policy to be universally hated. Equity is directly the investments to the people most impacted. If the park-and-rides are currently full then I would argue that there is no justification for congestion pricing when the suggested alternative is not available.

    1. For people living in the suburbs, most car trips are … surprise, in the suburbs! Or at least more suburban parts of Seattle. There is really not much reason to drive in to *downtown* and deal with the traffic and parking hassle unless it’s for work or an event. For the former, express busses serving park and rides are extensive, and Link is coming (and presumably could be accelerated with the revenue?). For the latter, congestion pricing would seem to be a small fraction compared to the ticket prices and parking fees.

      1. B–Park and rides are already at capacity during peak commute times (i.e. when congestion pricing would go into effect). So they can not be considered as an option for these people who would be severely impacted by congestion pricing. They literally have no other option except to drive downtown–making that more expensive without providing additional parking at transit centers would completely fail the equity initiatives. Link will help somewhat but at some point one has to ask if the revenue from congestion pricing should subsidize park and rides or alternatively some sort of vanpool-type system in the suburbs. Downtown Seattle is a regional jobs center and many of these people are in low wage jobs.

        That is the only issue I have with congestion pricing…otherwise full steam ahead.

      2. That is the only issue I have with congestion pricing…otherwise full steam ahead.

        The latest data I found with a quick search was for 2017 but the take away is only a select few P&R lots are at capacity. “Of the 35 high-utilization lots, 12 permanent lots were filled to 100-percent capacity or above.” With leased lots the availability further increases, “Sixteen of the 73 leased P&R lots realized 80-percent, or higher, utilization rates during the fourth quarter of 2017. Of the 16 high utilization lots, seven leased lots were filled to 100 percent capacity or above.” With revenue from congestion pricing the number of leased spaces can easily be increased.

        Full Steam Ahead!

  14. This is a horrible idea. We need to get the people who are pushing for these ideas out of whatever position they are in. Clear cash grab. Another form of taxation plain and simple.

    1. There is an obvious problem (traffic congestion costing everyone time and $) and the people we elected to solve these problems commissioned a study to find a solution. What’s your idea?

    2. What’s needed is more data from the anti-congestion-pricing point of view.

      The type of analysis that was used to justify adding 4 lanes to I-405 (20 years ago).
      That analysis used a factor called “Travel Time Savings” and assigned it as a $ benefit in the cost/benefit analysis.

      This is what’s needed for evaluating the overall economic benefit of not restricting auto travel in downtown areas. I’d love to see some numbers backing up that point of view.

      1. Since congestion pricing reduces travel times, the data you request would likely support congestion pricing.

        Furthermore, such an analysis should consider the 75% of workers who take other modes to drive downtown. How would reduced car congestion allow us to save time?

  15. What I’m suggesting is that, while the I-405 program used ‘travel time savings’ in their cost/benefit analysis, it really is somewhat narrow in scope.

    That study was looking at how time THROUGH the corridor could be improved.
    It’s a somewhat different animal than Congestion Pricing, which is based on Seattle being the Destination.

    The parameters would need to be broadened, so that decisions could be based on whether:
    Seattle wants to restrict the number of people coming into the city
    Seattle wants to restrict the number of SOVs coming into the city.

    The added parameter is whether there is economic benefit to having/not having as many SOVs entering the city.

    At a scoping meeting many years ago, (pre-Sound Transit,) a Port-of-Seattle representative made the comment that the parking garage at the airport was their cash-cow.
    So there is a lobby for more cars.

    Determining what and who benefits from more cars is something that needs further investigation.

    1. “The parameters would need to be broadened, so that decisions could be based on whether: Seattle wants to restrict the number of people coming into the city or Seattle wants to restrict the number of SOVs coming into the city.”

      The idea is restricting the number of SOVs eases the restriction on the number of people that can enter the city. Congestion on the roads leading into downtown is the result of the road system being at capacity. This also affects people and goods trying to go through downtown resulting in spill over traffic diverting to I-405 and surface streets. Then theres the square footage required to park all the cars. One’s parking space exceeds the average workers office space!

      1. Which means that SOV drivers feel they are of economic benefit.

        What I want to see is,…
        are they really?

      2. A reliance on SOV use “drives” it’s own economy. It made a forture for Joe Diamond. City government loves the tax revenue generated by auto dealerships. But the big impacts to density are congestion limiting access and parking taking up literally half or more of the available space. Here’s a link to the new Block 16 office building in Bellevue’s Spring District. Note the parking ration is 3/1,000 sqft. What’s the parking ration when it’s not Transit Oriented Development?

  16. I have no problem charging excessive amounts to all SOV users, up to the point it starts hurting the economy in a significant way. I would like to find that sweet spot where people are mad as hell about the toll but just short of actually changing where they do business. I feel like the ‘hot lane’ model has worked in that regard. I don’t care if people are merely pissed off about a policy, only if it alters where they spend money and/or create things.

Comments are closed.