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NYC Congestion Pricing or Congestion Tax?

The New York Times runs an editorial "Mass Transit Needs Congestion Pricing" that shows the problem with many U.S. transit systems – people who don't use them are asked to massively subsidize them. Congestion pricing makes sense for Manhattan's horribly congested streets. But I question the Times' automatic assumption that the revenues from congestion pricing must be used for mass transit. In most toll road systems, the revenues from the prices charged are used to improve the road or bridge for which the motorist pays. Motorists entering Manhattan via the Triborough Bridge, the Midtown Tunnel, and the Battery Tunnel pay high tolls for the privilege, but the majority of those funds are used for the MTA's transit program–as opposed to modernizing the bridges and tunnels. There are many ways in which congestion pricing fees paid by motorists could be used to improve the City's inadequate roadway system. But if congestion pricing revenues are going to all be used to subsidize transit, Mayor Bloomberg should at least call the program by an honest name: a Congestion Tax.

Reason Foundation's Transportation and Congestion Pricing Research

Robert Poole is Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy

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