Implications for the United States
Edited by Harry W. Richardson and Chang-Hee Christine Bae
17. The US context for highway congestion pricing Bumsoo Lee and Peter Gordon 1 INTRODUCTION If price does not ration, something else will. We also know that auto ownership and use respond to rising income and that congestion has become the default rationing mechanism on most of the world’s roads and highways. Economists and others have pointed out that this is increasingly wasteful and have argued that time-of-day pricing should be implemented (see, for example, the recent collection of essays edited by Roth, 2006). Modern monitoring and collection technologies suggest that this can now be done at low cost – although that assertion is challenged in a recent examination of the Stockholm road pricing trial, by Prud’homme and Kopp (2006). Policy makers in the US, however, have for the most part been reluctant to go along, fearing the prospect (or the appearance) of regressive impacts – even though they are thereby forgoing a new and considerable revenue source. In Chapter 19 of this volume, King et al. argue that improved revenue targeting and sharing schemes could develop greater political support. The world’s best-known experiments with road pricing have been the area-pricing programs in Singapore (since 1975)1 and London (since 2004). On a smaller scale, there have been scattered cases around various cities of the developed countries with moderately scaled pricing experiments on speciﬁc areas or on speciﬁc stretches of highways. Recently, some writers have suggested that the US is now near a tippingpoint, and that many more road pricing...
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