Worth reading: a New York Timesop-ed by London mayor Ken Livingstone on congestion pricing, one of our favorite topics.
As you may recall, in 2003 London started charging drivers a fee to enter the most congested part of the center city. The early results: congestion fell by 20 percent, climate-warming vehicle emissions fell by 15 percent, and 70,000 fewer cars per day entered the congested center city. Since then, the fee has been upped to £8 (about $16 US at today’s exchange rates). But apparently, there’s been little political backlash. In fact…
Before the [London] program began, polls showed that public opinion was divided almost exactly evenly. Since then, opinion has shifted to 2-to-1 in favor.
That’s right: the more experience people had with congestion pricing, the more they liked it!
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According to Livingstone, one of the keys to the London’s program’s success is that toll revenues have been used to improve transit service—so that people who can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the congestion charges have an alternative. That makes sense to me.
Of course, it doesn’t seem to make sense to people who want to build more roads. In fact, from a casual internet search it looks like that’s what happened in Stockhom, Sweden, which instituted a trial congestion charging system a few years ago. Stockholm residents supported the charges, and wanted to reinvest revenues in transit. But suburban residents balked. The end result, at this point, seems to be a tie: congestion pricing will go forward, but revenues will be used to “expand the motorway system of the Stockholm County [sic].” I guess suburban voters needed something to Sweden, er, sweeten the pot.