Rebutting Congestion Pricing’s Opponents

In today’s Gotham Gazette, Bruce Schaller, Visiting Scholar at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, assembles a nice summary of the current state of the congestion pricing debate in New York City. He writes:

Opponents believe that they have the upper hand in this debate. Indeed, there is evidence for this view. Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided mentioning congestion pricing in his speech. He was previously quoted in the New York Times as citing political obstacles in Albany as a reason to keep pricing off the agenda. The New York Post reported that Bloomberg would only support congestion pricing if all city residents—who account for most trips into the Manhattan Central Business district—were exempt. Yet to achieve traffic relief, no other measure would be as effective as congestion pricing.

Schaller then lays out the eleven most common arguments put forward by congestion pricing foes and offers a deft rebuttal to each of them. For example:

8. The economic effects of the plan will be devastating.
The Partnership study is the most comprehensive and rigorous evidence of the costs of not having a pricing program in New York. The most authoritative study conducted in London found that the economic effects of congestion pricing were "broadly neutral," even without accounting for the value of travelers’ time savings. An article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives concludes that overall benefits from the London pricing program far outweigh the costs.

Now, if only this were about rational policy-making instead of politics.