Better Roads Staff
“The changing character of congestion pricing and the new challenges it brings make improving the understanding of congestion pricing even more important.”
Building new capacity to accommodate more vehicles is not an easy case to bring before Washington and win. And there are even researchers who argue more capacity will in fact only produce more congestion. And, of course, in some large cities, it is just not possible to add lanes; there is just no room.
According to the GAO, the first U.S. congestion pricing project opened in 1995, and 19 project sponsors now have 41 pricing projects in operation or under construction, and there are about 400 miles of priced highway lanes with tolls varying from 25 cents to $14.
In other words, congestion pricing in America is, as the GAO says, “in its infancy.” But, as the report concludes, “its popularity is growing. New projects under construction and in planning will not only increase the number of roadway miles that use congestion pricing, they will also change the character of pricing in the United States, as some will be operated privately and some will add congestion-priced tolls to previously non-tolled roadways. The changing character of congestion pricing and the new challenges it brings make improving the understanding of congestion pricing even more important.”
Economists argue that congestion pricing can be an economically efficient decongestant for busy roadways, with drivers who need or value a fast, predictable trip willing to pay for it, and those who do not prepared to stay on more crowded roads where they pay little or nothing.
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