Saturday, January 05, 2008


The economics of congestion pricing is a no-brainer. The political economy of why we have so little of it is also a no-brainer: new taxes are bad taxes, not matter the economics.

Fixing the political problem is also a no-brainer -- now that David King, Michael Manville and Donald Shoup have thought of it ("For Whom the Road Tolls").

There have been many long discussions over what to do with the revenues from pricing. Return it to the drivers? No, say the authors. Return it to the cities that freeways traverse and create a consitituency that will lobby for road pricing.

The authors find that in LA county, 66 cities have freeways and these are among the less well off. Returning the projected revenues from tolling all LA county freeways to just these cities gives each one $500 per capita per year.

The authors show that the redistribution would be progressive (the wealthiest do most of the driving) and the 66 cities now get most of the freeway air pollution.

Most important, the policy is likely to convert opponents to advocates.

The best ideas are the obvious ones -- once someone has thought of them.