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Thomas Power and Adam Smith

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  • Zvi Leve
    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the POLITICS of road pricing being perhaps the principal barrier to implementation. Once upon a time, the field of
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 30, 2008
      I am surprised that no one has mentioned the POLITICS of road pricing being perhaps the principal barrier to implementation. Once upon a time, the field of Economics was called 'Political Economy' and we are deluding ourselves if we ignore the political aspects of economic decisions.... The UC Transportation Center had a very interesting article on the subject in their Access magazine, issue 31: For Whom the Road Tolls: The Politics of Congestion Pricing (http://www.uctc.net/scripts/access.pl?31/Access%2031%20-%2002%20-%20For%20Whom%20the%20Road%20Tolls.pdf), by David King, Michael Manville, and Donald Shoup. The authors discuss the reasons for insufficient political support and propose a very straight-forward mechanism to potentially resolve this problem. Recommended reading for all!

      Best regards,

      Zvi

      On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 1:33 PM, Lee Schipper <SCHIPPER@...> wrote:

      I appreciate Simon's answer below -- one cannot set a market price and then walk away thinking the problem is solved, just as one cannot solve problems that involve markets for desirable scarce goods (time, space) by regulation or honor alone.




    • Richard Layman
      Do you mind writing a bit more about this: town-or area- based systems of goods distribution (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 31, 2008
        Do you mind writing a bit more about this:
         
        town-or area- based systems of goods distribution (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based systems
         
        Mostly, these days we don't do either in the U.S., except for freight.  But I keep advocating for it in particular situations, as part of transportation demand management.  I am on the board of a public market, and the vendors bitch and moan about lack of parking for their customers.  I keep suggesting shared delivery service--saying wouldn't you want one truck to make 15 deliveries, rather than have 15 cars come to the market and try to find parking spaces?
         
        RL

        stephenplowden <stephenplowden@...> wrote:
        There are many towns and cites which have made a reasonable job of
        combating congetion without road pricing. A combination of parking
        controls (which can also involve the skilful use of pricing),
        reallocation of road space, low and well enforced speed limits, good
        public transport, town-or area- based systems of goods distribution
        (as exist in many German towns) rather than firm- or product-based
        systems, and land-use planning which allows as many journey purposes
        as possible to be satisfied by short journeys made on foot, and
        ensures that facilities which attract longer journeys are sited
        conveniently close to public transport stops, will usually be enough.
        The belief that the solution must lie in pricing is like saying in a
        commercial context that getting pricing right is always more important
        than getting the product right.

        --- In NewMobilityCafe@ yahoogroups. com, Simon Norton <S.Norton@.. .> wrote:
        >
        > In answer to Robert Bartlett and Gabriel Roth, I don't think there
        is any
        > alternative to a free market approach, but there needs to be careful
        > consideration of how it is applied.
        >
        > I regard Adam Smith as a progressive economist, and ideas of the UK
        organisation
        > called the Adam Smith Institute as a perversion of his teachings.
        >
        > If road pricing was really regarded by the rich as in their
        interests, I believe
        > it would have happened long ago. In some circles of the rich kudos
        is gained by
        > eliminating, as far as possible, one's financial contribution to
        society. Better
        > to sit in a traffic jam than to pay money which can be used to
        improve transport
        > for ordinary people. After all, if their journey is really urgent
        they can
        > always use a private aircraft.
        >
        > One of the perversions of the free market philosophy is free trade
        > fundamentalism. Many economists have recognised that the theory of
        comparative
        > advantage breaks down when capital and labour are both mobile. It is
        this that
        > has pushed many so called "developing" countries into poverty. In
        addition, and
        > more relevant to transport planning, it has undermined efforts to
        internalise
        > external costs, either because of regulations introduced to guard
        against
        > protectionism in disguise, or because of fears that it would lead to
        an exodus
        > of business.
        >
        > Transport policy needs to be based on two questions:
        > 1. How much roadspace should be allowed for private motoring ?
        > 2. How should motoring be regulated to minimise its impact on the
        environment ?
        >
        > These questions are not independent, but I believe that any attempt
        to solve
        > transport problems solely through question 2 is doomed to failure.
        In recent
        > months I have several times been told that pedestrians, cyclists and
        bus users
        > must be denied the priorities they need because to provide them
        would lead to
        > gridlock.
        >
        > My own answer to question 1 is "as little as possible". I have long
        been arguing
        > for a study to establish how much motoring really is essential to the
        > functioning of a city. Even before it became apparent that the
        developed world
        > needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80% to have a hope
        of keeping
        > climate change under control, I hoped that the answer would be low
        enough to
        > make walking, cycling and travelling by bus into really attractive
        ways of
        > getting around -- and to eliminate congestion.
        >
        > I am not a free market fundamentalist to the point that I believe
        that that
        > answer to 1 can be implemented through the pricing mechanism alone,
        but neither
        > do I believe that we can afford to ignore it.
        >
        > Let us remember, the cost of congestion isn't just drivers sitting
        in jams. It's
        > the time spent by the people they are supposed to be meeting with
        waiting for
        > them to turn up. It's the time people waste allowing for jams which
        may or may
        > not materialise, whether they are travelling by car or bus. It's the
        time people
        > spend waiting for the next bus or train having missed the one they
        are aiming
        > for. And it's the time pedestrians, cyclists and bus users spend
        waiting for
        > gaps in the traffic.
        >
        > If it is at all possible to run a city without congestion, let's
        adapt one of
        > our existing cities (or build a new one) in this way, and when
        people flock to
        > it in search of a better life let's adapt and build more of them to
        meet demand.
        > That's the free market, isn't it ?
        >
        > Finally, Gabriel is right to say that so called "market pricing" can
        be a cover
        > for legalised extortion. In the UK peak pricing of rail travel,
        which also
        > affects trains that run at peak times but are practically empty
        (e.g. because
        > they are running against the direction of flow), is a case in point.
        If public
        > transport users have to put up with extortion, why should motorists
        be spared ?
        >
        > Simon Norton
        >




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