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Friday, 8th December 2006

Battling Traffic: What New Yorkers Think About Road Pricing

Battling Traffic: What New Yorkers Think About Road Pricing
Source: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Traveling on New York City’s streets and highways normally takes 50–75% longer at rush hour than under uncongested conditions. The value of time wasted from traffic congestion is about $8 billion annually. Congestion also increases the cost of doing business in New York and leaves drivers and bus riders stressed from clogged streets and unpredictable travel times.

Cities from London to Singapore to San Diego have shown that road pricing measures such as fees to enter a portion of the city or to use a highway lane are powerful tools in reducing traffic congestion. Yet most road pricing proposals stumble on the political toxicity of fees and tolls, which the public often views as tantamount to taxes aimed at drivers. With advances in toll collection technology, public acceptability is clearly the major barrier to adopting pricing measures.

This study tested the public acceptability of three well-known and widely discussed pricing policies:

  • Congestion pricing in which vehicles driving in the Manhattan business district on weekdays would pay a fee
  • “Express lanes” on highways for solo drivers who pay a toll as well as buses and high-occupancy vehicles
  • Increases in the cost of on-street parking.

The first two measures are aimed at reducing congestion on streets and highways. Increased parking fees are intended to increase turnover of parking spaces, reduce double parking, and make finding a parking spot easier.

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