Monday, August 27, 2007

Use Pricing to Get the Traffic Moving in Manhattan!

Ken Livingstone argues in "Clear Up the Congestion-Pricing Gridlock" (New York Times , July 2, 2007) that New York City could learn from London. Pricing entry into the city would reduce congestion sufficiently to more than make up for the burden of the tax.

He tells us that four years ago, "London’s business district was undergoing rapid growth, but it was at capacity in terms of traffic. Efforts to channel more cars into the city center simply led to ever lower traffic speeds, which in turn led to business losses and a decrease in quality of life. Simultaneously, carbon emissions were mounting because of the inefficiency of engine use.

In 2003, London put in place a £5 (about $9) a day congestion charge for all cars that entered the center city (the charge is now £8). This led to an immediate drop of 70,000 cars a day in the affected zone. Traffic congestion fell by almost 20 percent. Emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were cut by more than 15 percent.

The negative side effects predicted by opponents never materialized. The retail sector in the zone has seen increases in sales that have significantly exceeded the national average. London’s theater district, which largely falls within the zone, has been enjoying record audiences. People are still flocking to London — they’re simply doing so in more efficient and less polluting ways."

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