What If Pricing Had a Better Name?

A commentator at the Wall Street Journal blog Buzzwatch posits that congestion pricing would have stood a better chance if it had a better name. After asking branding specialists for a more appealing moniker, here’s what rose to the top:

  • StreetSmart – Burt Alper, Catchword Branding
  • FreeFlow and ClearPass – George Frazier, Idiom Brand Identity
  • TrafficEase – Allen Adamson, Landor Associates
  • GreenWay and ClearWay – James Bell, Lippincott
  • EZ-Zone – Upstate NY Dem, commenter

Even if pricing had been called "Puppies for Orphans," however, the big hurdle wasn’t so much popular support. The last Q poll showed public opinion at 2 to 1 in favor, assuming funds went to transit as planned, so it’s hard to see how a name alone could have thwarted the deliberate efforts of politicians to misrepresent the plan as regressive, or their timidity in taking a stand on something seen as controversial. Did Sheldon Silver and Richard Brodsky care what it was called?

I found "congestion pricing" to be an honest and straightforward label. And, as Zubin Jelveh points out at his blog Odd Numbers, other cities that have enacted congestion pricing didn’t exactly opt for a streamlined brand:

  • Congestion Charge – London, U.K.
  • Toll Collect – Germany
  • Electronic Road Pricing – Singapore
  • Valletta Congestion Charge – Valletta, Malta
  • Congestion Tax – Stockholm, Sweden

Jelveh also has an update on the latest city to adopt pricing, Milan, which did go the sexy name route, with "EcoPass": 

  • Traffic was down 22.7%
  • Average speed of vehicles was up 11.3%
  • Subway use was up 9.1%
  • Pm10 (particulates under 10 micrograms) levels were down 26%
  • NOx levels were down 21%
  • Ammonia levels were down by 40%

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