Credit: (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
This piece was updated on May 24th, 2019
Traffic is awful. It causes pollution, it , it costs cities and drivers … and if you’ve ever sat in a car, inching along a packed highway, you understand the toll it takes. So, how do we fix it? According to UCLA’s Michael Manville, there are a lot of proposed solutions, but only one - yes, one - really works.
- According to Manville, the one proven solution to traffic is to price our roads. What he proposes is a specific type of toll: a congestion charge. The toll is dynamic, with the price rising or falling based on the demand for the road at a specific time. (The toll would likely be high at 8 in the morning, but quite low at midnight.) Unlike other tolls, it’s not designed to raise money; instead, it’s designed to discourage a few people from driving.
- The reason Manville thinks that this will work is that “the majority of [traffic] is caused by the last few vehicles on the road.” A road can absorb a lot of cars and still be traffic-free, but after a certain point, each additional vehicle causes a lot of delay. So if you can take about 5 percent of cars off the road, traffic becomes much better.
- Manville says that there’s evidence that this plan has worked. Singapore has used of it since 1975. Cities like have also tried their spins on congestion pricing.
- Update: in 2021, in America to implement a congestion pricing plan. Manville says this is incredibly encouraging for other places considering similar policies, and could start a wave of new traffic regulations across the country.
- further explaining how congestion pricing would work in practice.
- Manville explains could be structured to not adversely impact lower-income folks.
- at the political calculus of congestion pricing.