If Congestion Pricing Had to be Approved by a Legislature…

In the fall of 2005, prior to Mayor Bloomberg’s second term election victory, I began working on a story for New York Magazine about the broad-based coalition that was coming together to push for congestion pricing and a whole array of new urban environmental policies for New York City. While that story never quite came together as a big magazine feature, it eventually inspired the creation of Streetsblog. Ultimately, I used some of my reporting to write this longer piece about the numerous failed efforts over the last four decades to create some sort of congestion pricing system for New York City.

I was just going through some of my old notes and drafts of that story and found the following passage. It seems particularly relevant at the moment:

It’s no coincidence that London’s congestion pricing system was implemented "during a singular political moment" in which the national government gave Mayor Ken Livingstone "near-dictatorial powers" to take over and reform the city’s transportation systems, said John Kaehny, former executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

Transport for London spokesman Alun Shermer agreed with that assessment, adding, "If congestion pricing had to go through a legislative process it probably wouldn’t have happened."

It is worth noting that the world’s first major urban congestion pricing system was set up in Singapore, a city-state under the rule of a benign dictatorship.

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