Economic Development Research Group Blog

CONGESTION PRICING – AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS FINALLY COME (TO THE U.S.)

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In the early hours of March 31 st , New York State took the landmark step of moving forward with implementation of a congestion pricing policy for Manhattan. [1] With this deal, NYC edges out other cities like Seattle [2] and Los Angeles [3] to be the first in the U.S. to impose a charge on all vehicles entering a specific zone of the city. Other kinds of congestion pricing like dynamic rates for express toll lanes have existed for years, but drivers generally have an alternative option to reach their destinations without paying a fee. Starting in 2021, that will not be the case for almost any vehicle traveling into Manhattan below 60 th Street – only emergency vehicles and vehicles transporting someone with a disability are exempt from the charge established in New York’s legislation. I wrote back in February about how congestion pricing and road usage charge discussions...
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Resilience Economics in Action: The Example of US-101 in California

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Many MPO’s and state DOT’s are beginning to assess not only their vulnerability to transportation system failures caused by natural disasters and weather-related events, but also the wider economic consequences of potential future infrastructure system failures.  As such events may increase in frequency with aging facilities and climate change, understanding the economic consequences of these events should be at the core of any resiliency analysis.  To address this issue, two fundamental questions need to be considered: What are the economic consequences of failures in a transportation system caused by weather or other natural disaster events? What cost-effective transportation solutions can best avoid, mitigate, or quickly respond to these potential failures? Quantifying the scale of economic losses due to a disruption in the transportation system highlights how much of the economy is exposed to natural or weather-related disasters.  This assessment can be used as a benchmark to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various...
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ROAD PRICING MAY BE COMING: ECONOMISTS ARE ON BOARD, BUT WILL THE PUBLIC BE CONVINCED?

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Most people seem to agree with a “user-pays” principle for transportation infrastructure, especially for roads and highways. The fuel excise tax on gasoline and diesel has long been the primary source of federal and state transportation revenues. While economists have long advocated for other types of fees, transportation professionals, policymakers, politicians and even the public have just recently become more active in pricing discussions. A number of trends in transportation technology and behavior have launched this discussion, which was strongly evident this year at the TRB Annual Meeting. A lot of work that I shared at TRB this year considers how revenue policies might respond to the following trends and what the impacts of those revenue policies would be on household contribution to transportation funding in urban and rural areas respectively. Trend 1: Fuel Efficiency and Electrification. The most recent CAFE standards will significantly increase the fuel efficiency of the fleet,...
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Rural Accessibility

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There are more remote regions in the country, but the Appalachian Region with its population of 25 million is unique in the way that it is comparatively populous, within reach of large metropolitan areas of the East and yet is still isolated in many parts. Poverty in Appalachia was ubiquitous when President Johnson signed legislation to make federal funds available to develop the Appalachian Region. The construction of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) has since been one of the major efforts to overcome economic distress in the region. The relationship between poor access to markets and the lack of economic opportuni-ties has been well known for a long time. With the ADHS nearing its completion and highway accessibility widely improved, economic distress and its consequences remain a prevalent issue in some parts of Appalachia, reinforced by the nation’s evolving economy. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has therefore started a project...
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