Wednesday, March 2, 2011


nadezhda writes in response to FLG's congestion pricing post:
Sigh. I assume you're just feeling your usual snarky self. However, you seem to be under the misapprehension that American "progressives" or "lefties" or whatever-label-you're-in-the-mood-for are committed to the promotion of egalitarian misery.

Congestion pricing is, objectively, win-win -- those who value speedier trips and can pay do, and the rest benefit from less congestion. The main challenge is setting the price point.

One difficulty may arise, in some cultures, when we factor in subjective notions of "fairness". And if empirically (oooh, scary, scary concept) those subjective factors undermine the workability of congestion pricing, then us pragmatists (devils though we may be) won't pursue it.

Since the idea has been known to work in some cases, however, it'll take a bit more than McMegan's handwringing to satisfy empirical standards.

Hey, who you callin' snarky?

Seriously though, in regards to, "those who value speedier trips and can pay do, and the rest benefit from less congestion."

That's not how FLG understand it works in London. What he understands is this:
Those who want to drive into the congestion charge zone pay a daily fee. Those who can't or don't want to, well, don't. They don't drive there at all, and so they don't benefit from less congestion. Only the people who pay the fee do.

Now, obviously, that's just one type of mechanism. There are others. For example, where the price to enter the highway fluctuates based upon the level of congestion. A mechanism like that makes more sense, at least to FLG. But FLG isn't sure these are the Pareto optimal solutions their proponents make them out to be.

Funny thing about this is that FLG is actually in favor of congestion pricing. Seems like a workable market solution to a problem.


nadezhda said...

Well, since I had indeed expected you to generally be in favor of schemes that rely on market-pricing, I figured you were just suffering from a heighted attack of snark.

I think you may be right re London. And clearly bridge and tunnel tolls that control the number of vehicles into a central area work that way as well. But most of the highway proposals I've read about are more like pricing HOVs.

Anyhow, the point is that a road congestion scheme also needs to be supplemented with improved transit or it just shifts the congestion from one mode to another. But you have a revenue source that can finance the additional transit. That's where the win-win comes into play. That is, unless the folks who don't want to pay the congestion price get their fee-fees hurt.

Anonymous said...

let me talk up car pools. Mostly - pain in the butt. Twenty minutes to get everyone together in the 'burbs, then you drive through congestion to work. And after you drop everyone off, the guy with a parking garage at his office finally parks and goes into work.

BUT if you have a congestion charge: fifteen bucks to come in from Woodbridge. It's worth the twenty minutes to get all four together, then everyone only spends $4 on toll. AND there is less congestion, because you and everyone else has taken cars off the road. So you actually get there in about the same time as you would with everyone driving by himself and dealing with the congestion. You have paid for the road with the $15. So your state income tax is lower. What's not to like? dave.s.

The Ancient said...

For reasons I don't care to examine, I'm really happy to see FLG and nadezhda unite behind the idea that aristocrats ought to be able to drive their carriages into the centre of London without being impeded by the peasantry.

(Now if they could just put their minds together and do something similarly constructive about banning bicycles in Georgetown.)

FLG said...


For a while there when I was metro-ing into Georgetown and walked across the Key Bridge everyday I had half a mind to get one of those ASP telescoping batons. I figured if I heard a biker coming I'd extend it and simply hold it out sideways. Thus, clotheslining the fucker. I figured if it happened once or twice, that's all that'd be needed to stem most of the flow. They'd tell their little Lance Armstrong wannabe friends at their little meetings or whatever.

I got some legal advice from a member of the DC bar, who agreed with my analysis that the biker would've been at fault for running into me, as the baton could be considered part of my person.

Why I had the baton, however, was apparently a thornier legal question in the supposedly weapons free District of Columbia.

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