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On Untolled Congested Highways, Every Day is Free Cone Day


zakimGreat analogy from Matt Yglesias to explain why congested roads should be tolled:

Build a useful road and you’ll find that space on the road at peak times is a valuable commodity. And yet it’s also a commodity that’s generally either available for free or else available for a price that’s unrelated to the demand for space on the road. Naturally an underpriced valuable commodity leads to overconsumption. Traffic jams, in other words.

Every once in a while Ben & Jerry’s holds a “Free Cone Day” that invariably leads to long lines. Roadways in dynamic metro areas are basically holding Free Cone Day five days a week. Charge people enough money to eliminate routine congestion and you’ll find yourself with fewer traffic jams and an enormous pool of revenue that can be used to maintain your basic infrastructure and upgrade your bus service.

Virginia is experimenting with congestion-priced HOT lanes, but only as additions to free congested roads. And instead of looking for solutions that would actually cut traffic and raise desperately-needed transportation revenue, Gov. Bob McDonnell is instead playing political games (read much more from Jim Bacon here and here).

Watch Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, explain how congestion pricing can improve traffic patterns – and drivers may not even realize they’ve been nudged out of their congested routine:

If you can’t watch the video, read about it here.

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