The Price of Solving City Problems

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Not long ago, London introduced congestion pricing to improve traffic conditions there. New York City still hasn’t managed to do this. In The Unheavenly City Revisited (1974), Edward Banfield makes it clear that congestion pricing was already the obvious solution decades ago:

The “price” of solving, or alleviating, some much-talked-about city problems, it would appear from this, may be largely political. Keeping congestion at low levels at peak hours would necessitate placing high toll charges on roads at the very times when most people want to use them; some would regard this as grossly unfair (as indeed in a way it would be) and so the probabilities are that if any official had the authority to make the decision (none does, which is part of the problem) he would not raise tolls at rush hours for fear of being voted out of office.

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