Get On the Bus!

I wanted to title this "Connecting the DOTs (Departments of Transportation)," but it's really more about where the buck stops and bus stops. Getting serious, I read this editorial in the New York Times this morning with alarm. Apparently, if the New York Assembly, Senate, and Governor don't act by July 16th to approve Mayor Bloomberg's proposed congestion pricing plan, New York will loose a shot at $500 million and mass transit fares in the City will probably go up between 25% and 50% or $0.50 and $1.00.

Now I don't work on smart growth and congestion issues, but I do have enough formal economics training to love congestion pricing. It just makes so much sense. I'm always flummoxed by resistance from businesses. By now there must be conclusive studies showing that more livable and walkable neighborhoods see more foot traffic and more foot traffic means more shopping.

I'm less dismissive about concerns that congestion pricing is regressive--high congestion prices mean that only the rich can drive into the City. Of course parking lot parking in the New York is already ridiculously expensive, so driving in is already limited to the rich and those determined enough to find parking on the street. But the real answer to this concern is to realize that congestion pricing is the best way to get the rich to pay for fast, affordable, readily available, and high quality mass transit so that the rest of us can get in and around our cities even faster and more comfortably than folks in their cars.

This little snippet posted on Peak Oil about how high gas prices are leading more and more folks to take mass transit points out the high economic cost of not having an affordable mass transit system. If the choice is between paying at the pump so that we can get stuck in traffic or paying an extra dollar to ride a subway that's struggling to keep up with increase demand and maintenance, doesn't everyone win with a good congestion pricing plan?

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