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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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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