April 25, 2018

TAX WHAT YOU DON'T WANT:

Cars Are Ruining Our Cities (Justin Gillis and Hal Harvey, April 25, 2018, NY Times)

[T]he public and a few of our bolder political leaders are waking up to the reality that we simply cannot keep jamming more cars into our cities.

A century of experience has taught us the folly of it. Three pathologies emerge. First, every car becomes the enemy of every other. The car you hate most is the one that's right in front of you not moving. As cars pile in, journey times and pollution rise.

Second, after a certain point, more cars make the city a less congenial place for strollers, bicyclists and people who take public transit to their destinations. The cars push out frolicking kids, quiet afternoons reading on a bench and sidewalk cafes. So we give up our public space, our neighbor-to-neighbor conversations and ultimately our personal mobility for the next car, and the next one.

And then there is the odd fact, counterintuitive as it is, that building more roads does not really cure congestion and can even make it worse. The problem, as experts realized starting in the 1930s, is that as soon as you build a highway or add lanes to a freeway, cars show up to fill the available capacity. The phenomenon is so well understood that it has a name: induced traffic demand. [...]

London now has 15 years of experience with a stiff "congestion charge" that discourages many drivers from entering the city center. In a virtuous cycle, the money goes to better public transit and more bike lanes. Early legislative discussions are underway about trying the same thing in Seattle and in some of California's more congested cities. New York has just turned down such a plan for the second time in a decade, but the idea is not going to die -- the city needs it too badly.

In the crowded cities of Asia, people are not allowed to get a car just because they want one. Shanghai residents must buy license plates that have gone for up to $13,000 at auction, and Beijing residents have to enter a lottery for a plate. 


Congestion tax and toll them to cover the externalities they impose.

Posted by at April 25, 2018 4:40 AM

  

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