Road Pricing for Transit-Advocates

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Information about Road Pricing for Transit-Advocates

Published on April 2, 2008

Author: BernGrush



A sort of road-pricing for dummies, but biased to new, infrastructure-free GPS-based metering.

Road-Pricing for Dummies Bern Grush congestion pricing advocate mobility advocate car, bike AND transit biased toward pay-as-you-go transportation inventor of technology to address congestion Transit Advocates Toronto Transit Camp 2008

Congestion is transit’s enemy ..but cars would become transit’s biggest ally… … if drivers paid fairly for road use instead of pay-by-fuel-tax, pay-by-property-tax and pay-by-vehicle-registration-taxes

Fixing transit without fixing how we pay for road use is unsustainable Congestion traps buses in crawling traffic … keeping cars as the preferred mode … which reserves transit “for the poor” … thereby minimizing transit in the political process


Surface transportation has three problems [too much] Congestion [too many] Emissions [not enough] Funding

You cannot build your way out of congestion Building roads to solve congestion… … is like buying bigger pants to solve obesity

Congestion hurts transit Buses go slower making transit less desirable which makes cars more desirable … causing more congestion


Congestion hurts everything motorists transit users taxi users pedestrians bicyclists productivity anyone still breathing

Focus on congestion as the central issue for road pricing Emissions are addressed when you reduce congestion (…and different vehicle types can pay different congestion charges) Funding is addressed by adjusting prices

Focus on congestion NOT emissions People talk green, but are unwilling to pay for green Emissions get addressed when you price for congestion [the rest is a cleantech problem]

Focus on congestion NOT funding People think congestion is government’s problem… “… not my problem” Funding gets fixed when you price properly for congestion

Money from congestion pricing needs to address all of transportation roads transit bicycling walking keep a balance … you saw what happens when it gets out of balance

Myth: “ Fuel taxes pay for the road” Only partially… … property taxes and general funds pay half of it

Avoidance: “ Just raise the fuel tax, then” Fuel tax is insensitive to congestion It causes “all you can drive roads” Flat taxes encourage consumption Fuel tax is a flat tax relative to congestion in the sense that it does not vary with congestion

Avoidance: “ Then use a cordon charge as London does” Cordon charges have limited and temporary effects They are just another form of flat tax Once you have paid, you can drive around all you like Avoid cordon charges

Myth: “ Transit is not ready” Transit will never be “ready” ahead of time Borrow money; add buses on the same day charging starts Use charging revenue to repay loan and provide more transit

Myth: “ Tolling is not acceptable” Tollingbecomes acceptable when mobility improves: congestion reduced transit improved bicycling improved quality of life is improved Every study shows this

Myth: “ Road-Pricing hurts the poor” Road pricing helps the poor The poor use transit far more often than the rich; transit gets stuck in traffic The rich pay far more road charges than the poor

Myth: “ Tolling is not safe” Partially true When high-speed tolled roads are beside smaller untolled roads, tolls may reroute trucks causing safety issues Solution: toll them all

Excuse: “ We already pay too many taxes” You are paying the WRONG taxes Ask to pay for the road instead of higher property taxes and higher gas taxes

Excuse: “ We are tolling for the wrong reasons” Design a road charging program to reduce congestion Let funding and emissions goals fall into line

Excuse: “ Cordon charging is a tax grab” A simple entry fee does not discriminate between a motorist driving 1 mile from one driving 10 Use time, distance and place charging for greater fairness and better pricing signals

Excuse: “ Tolling is not environmentally friendly” This is true if a pricing program encourages cars to leave a highway and drive through neighborhoods Toll wide areas, not just isolated roads that can be avoided

Excuse: “ Tolling is too expensive to implement everywhere” True until now “ Tag & Beacon” systems require expensive infrastructure Manhattan proposed to spend about $300-500M just on that New GPS-based systems take that major cost to zero

Excuse: “ My city is different” [than Singapore, London, Stockholm] Yes, it is But it is still congested And it is full of humans who respond far more to economic stimuli more than to green admonitions

Myth: “ I will be tracked” GPS tolling systems can be made “location anonymous” At least one company provides a fully anonymous, pre-paid system You will not be tracked

Avoidance: You have to toll everywhere to get rid of the gas tax True. … so let’s start somewhere

Avoidance: We can’t afford to toll everywhere False. Infrastructure-free, reliable, cheap, private GPS metering is now available It handles every imaginable form of road pricing, parking pricing and pay-as-you-drive insurance

“ Congestion is Un-American”

Imagine a payment service that included parking and insurance discounts, driver rewards A payment platform with sufficient additional value to the motorist would be able to toll all roads at the cost of Visa transactions That technology has been built in Canada and will be released in July 2008

Time, Distance and Place Road Pricing Pay for how much you drive, depending on how congested it is when you drive This is the fairest, safest, most flexible and most extensible approach available

Ticketless Parking Escalating Rates Park & Walk-away; return and drive off when you want If you stay over the maximum allowable time your per-minute parking fee might double or quadruple You are immune from parking tickets for meter violations

Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance Drive less – pay less premiums … with nicer bus and bike arrangements and more road and parking payments, you probably will drive less! Could this mean road-pricing saves me money?

Distance-based taxi plating Life-time or annual plating means an owner/operator needs to keep that taxi moving 24 hours … hence, too few taxis during peak hours and too many otherwise … leading to idling, circling, low-wage jobs, poor commuter service

Driver Rewards for non-use Don’t move your vehicle between 7:30 and 9:30 am Don’t move your vehicle between 3:30 and 6:30 pm $2 parking credit each time

Emission-based pricing Use pricing weights: Smart Car or hybrid: normal charge x 0.5 Hummer or cube van: normal charge x 1.35

Parking Loyalty Monthly parking is a flat tax and generates car trips If you paid $150 for a downtown parking spot for June, would you take the bus? Instead, “park 10 times get one free”

Courier Zones Stop ticketing couriers (they ignore them anyway) Charge by the hour for a vehicle to be delivering in congested zones, charge variably to allow city logistics operators to optimize

HOT Streets High Occupancy or Toll Toll a few inner arteries (no infrastructure, remember); add BRT and bike lanes paid for courtesy of the motorists who elect to use the tolled HOT streets

Summary: We pay the wrong way We pay for road use through congestion-insensitive fuel and property taxes This is a root cause of congestion; These taxes provide no economic signals that we should travel at a different time, or with a different modality Paying for roads on the basis of time, place and distance , sends those signals

Summary: The solution is available Private, GPS-based road-, parking- and insurance meters are ready They can do a lot of useful congestion-busting now They will soon enable replacement of the fuel tax

Fight for Road Pricing Urban mobility depends on it Your mobility depends on it Transit depends on it Thank you! Toronto Transit Camp 2008

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