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Old Posted Jul 18, 2019, 12:33 PM
Encolpius Encolpius is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: London
Posts: 657
^ This is precisely what I object to. Imagine that drivers have an alternative of two, moderately congested routes to get between Point A and Point B. You toll them both. Fine. I see some disadvantages to this compared to other revenue sources, but there are certainly advantages as well: you can adjust the toll to discourage driving at rush hour (maybe congestion decreases slightly), and perhaps some drivers will be incentivized to carpool or take public transit.

But suppose you toll only one of the routes. Put the revenue out of your mind for a moment and look at the other effects of this. Imagine the toll is perfectly calibrated so that it only displaces a relatively small amount of traffic from the tolled road to the freeway at peak commuting times: by removing even this small quantity of cars from a moderately congested road, suddenly traffic begins flowing much more smoothly! That's the way traffic works. The minority of drivers who are willing and able to pay for it now have a better commute, because their money insulates them from the consequences of the city's poor planning decisions.

But the majority of drivers? Their commute just became much worse. Adding even a small quantity of additional traffic to an already congested route now makes the congestion appalling. There is suddenly political pressure to expand the freeway, to build a new bypass. That's the way politics works. The city will build more roads to appease these drivers (since they're the majority), cutting the budget for public transit. The expanded capacity will induce further sprawl, and within a few more years the roads will be just as congested as before.

Tolling only some roads makes poorer use of our existing road capacity than tolling all or none of them. It exacerbates the gap between haves and have-nots, increases the political divide, and makes things worse for the majority. Coddling the rich certainly doesn't 'free up more room' for the rest of us; it makes our lives harder and our cities more congested, polluted and dysfunctional.
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