Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bloomberg calls for congestion pricing

On Sunday, as I was eating a tira misu gelato waffle cone in little Italy on a weekend trip to NYC, a few blocks south at city hall Mayor Bloomberg was announcing his Earth Day plan to start congestion pricing in Manhattan. His plan, to charge cars $8 or trucks $21 to enter the city anywhere below 86th Street, would go into effect in 2009 if he can succesfully sell it to state and local politicians.
"It sounds like a lot of money, but you go to the movies, it's 12 bucks, so let's put some of this stuff in perspective here," he said. "People that drive into the city generally _ you have to be careful to not say everybody _ but if you look at the statistics, tend to be people that can afford it, because otherwise they'll take mass transit. -- Bloomburg, in an April 23, AP article

Many European cities including Stockholm, London and Paris have implemented such a system with success for exactly the reason that Bloomberg stated. Those who can afford it, pay it. Those who can't, find alternative means of transportation. Such a system may seem unfair to working class citizens, but economists say, congestion pricing is one good market solution for combatting congestion and the associated carbon dioxide emissions.
The only better option to a zoning price is a per-mile fee, according to The Undercover Economist , by Tim Harford, an idea Oregon has been testing for the past year in a small pilot project but has so far failed to implement more broadly. Bloomberg's idea, while progressive for a U.S. city is nothing new. Oregon's system, if succesful, would be revolutionary.

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