Bumpy Road to Congestion Pricing

Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt has a good article in today’s Post pointing our that road pricing is “inevitable”, is technically possible, and is politically more acceptable now than ever before. He also points out that support (and opposition) crosses political lines. Some of the opposition is simply muddled thinking. For example:

“Many of us believe it’s a regressive tax on the working class,” Michael Benjamin, a Democratic legislator from the Bronx, told The Post’s Keith B. Richburg. And when asked about a similar plan that has worked well in London, reducing congestion and throwing off funds to improve buses, he said, “Britain has been rationing things since 1945. In America, we don’t ration things.” Economists would disagree, saying that Americans pay for space on the road — just not in money. They waste more than 4 billion hours in traffic delays each year. They pay in lost time, bad air, stress, lowered health and skewed development patterns. A system that charged drivers to use the roads, with fares rising at peak times as high as necessary to keep traffic moving, would be more rational and efficient. As Chris Zimmerman, a Democrat on the Arlington County Board and an economist, says, “If the price of bread were zero, you wouldn’t find bread on the shelves.”

The complete article can be found here.