Harris County Toll Increases are Good for Mobility

Variable pricing is a proven congestion-reduction tool

Letter to the Editor at the Houston Chronicle

Despite some drivers’ complaints (“As Westpark tolls rise, so do tempers,” June 20), the decision to increase toll rates is good news for commuters. The Westpark Tollway is clogged, and using higher prices to discourage some people from traveling in rush-hours is actually a great tool to reduce traffic congestion.

In Orange County, California, variably-priced toll lanes represent just one-third of one highway’s (SR 91) lanes but are able to carry half of all rush-hour traffic because they are moving at the speed limit. The new toll lanes being built on the Katy Freeway will take a similar approach.

The County’s decision to adjust tolls to inflation will also help reduce congestion. Now the County can better generate the financing needed to build new roads, and do so faster. Critics complaining about tolls that might double over the next 20 years should remember that they can expect similar price increases for a loaf of bread, Starbucks coffee, or other goods and services they purchase.

Leonard C. Gilroy
Senior Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation
Houston, TX