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congestion pricing notions

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  • dubluth
    In message 5950 ktsourl wrote: Although I m glad my remarks proved so fertile, I must say that what I originally mentioned about price differentiation was
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 17, 2003
      In message 5950 ktsourl wrote:
      "Although I' m glad my remarks proved so fertile, I
      must say that what I originally mentioned about price
      differentiation was not intended to imply that such
      subtle and detailed pricing is necessary, wanted or
      feasible. Quite the opposite, this remark was part of
      my argument that such kind of utopian pricing would be
      necessary for the very existence of the notion of
      "congestion cost" - hence my doubt about the concept
      of "congestion cost". Your thoughts have rather
      corroborated my initial opinion."

      A recognition of congestion costs exists independant of ideas of how
      to internalize these costs. Awareness of these costs is what drove
      the development of schemes to internalize them, not the other way
      around. There is not chicken-egg confusion here.

      In message 5949 Chris Bradshaw wrote:
      "As far as "congestion pricing" is concerned, I would
      suggest that congestion is its own punishment, hardly
      requiring any further retribution. Why people want to
      control it is that they know that congestion can be
      eliminated if only a relatively small number of
      _others_ don't use the same road when they are. I would
      also suggest that drivers are far more susceptible to
      congestion than cyclists and walkers (in fact, Wm. Holly
      Whyte, in _City: Rediscovering the Center_, pointed out
      that sidewalk congestion _attracts_ those on foot). Last
      Friday, I and an associate challenged the policy people
      at Transport Canada who said that congestion was bad;
      we said that it was a natural way to allocate a limited
      resource, especially when the activity itself is not a
      desirable one."

      Congestion is natural in the sense that it is an inevitable outcome
      of inadequately rationed access to a congestable and sought after
      resource. Being natural doesn't make a phenomena a publicly
      desirable influence on the allocation of a resource. Pollution and
      theft are also consequences that have the virtue of being natural.
      However, people aren't ultimately interested in whether a feature of
      their economic environment can be called natural; the bottom line is
      how the resulting allocation of resources affects their lives.

      In the above quote, Mr. Bradshaw presents punishment or its adequacy
      as the relevant dimension from which to evaluate policy for motor
      traffic regulation. According to Bradshaw, drivers who are trying to
      use the same congested road are punishing one another in measured
      fashion.

      If the purpose of punishment is to create discomfort or harm, then
      uncontrolled access works well to generate this curious public goal.
      If the purpose of punishment is to deter behavior that that has
      negative consequences for other members of society, the mere fact of
      congestion points to its inadequacy as a deterant.

      I think most people would be glad to know that we aren't constrained
      to consider policy simply in terms of meting out punishment.
      Congestion tolls aren't retributive; they are an attempt to produce a
      market to efficiently allocate scarce road space.

      It doesn't bother me that motorists on congestion tolled roads would
      enjoy their drives more than they would on congested open-access
      roads. I would like to see an end to all the perverse incentives
      that make driving more attractive than it should be.

      Of course, there are economic interests who prefer the status-quo.
      When, for a majority of citizens, the automotile oriented life is the
      most affordable means of enjoying the good life, there will be plenty
      of political demand for more roads. Were citizens to bear the full
      cost of their decision to drive - including those costs they
      otherwise impose only on other drivers, they would seek other housing
      options, other services, and less motor infrastructure. This
      wouldn't be the best thing for GM, Mobile, or a variety of other
      interests. It would be a much better thing for future generations,
      the environment, and the bulk of us alive today.

      I haven't examined the road pricing scheme being discussed in
      England. There are some methods, including at least one that uses
      GPS, that don't relay or store vehicle position information.
      Instead, a charge is calculated on board and only the amount owed is
      stored in a box in the vehicle.

      Bill Carr
    • ktsourl
      ... existence of ... Why awareness of environmental and the other external costs didn t drive the development of schemes to internalize them? Is it accidental
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 20, 2003
        > Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 21:05:41 -0000
        > From: "dubluth" <dubluth@...>
        >Subject: congestion pricing notions
        >
        >In message 5950 ktsourl wrote:
        >"Although I' m glad my remarks proved so fertile, I must say that what I
        >originally mentioned about price differentiation was not intended to
        >imply that such subtle and detailed pricing is necessary, wanted or
        >feasible. Quite the opposite, this remark was part of my argument that
        >such kind of utopian pricing would be necessary for the very
        existence of
        >the notion of "congestion cost" - hence my doubt about the concept of
        >"congestion cost". Your thoughts have rather corroborated my initial
        >opinion."
        >
        >A recognition of congestion costs exists independant of ideas of how to
        >internalize these costs. Awareness of these costs is what drove the
        >development of schemes to internalize them, not the other way around.
        >There is not chicken-egg confusion here.

        Why awareness of environmental and the other external costs didn't
        drive the development of schemes to internalize them? Is it accidental
        that congestion costs are the only part of the external cost of
        driving borne entirely by the drivers themselves, and mostly by the
        wealthiest among them?

        >In message 5949 Chris Bradshaw wrote:
        >"As far as "congestion pricing" is concerned, I would suggest that
        >congestion is its own punishment, hardly requiring any further
        >retribution. Why people want to control it is that they know that
        >congestion can be eliminated if only a relatively small number of
        >_others_ don't use the same road when they are. I would also suggest
        that
        >drivers are far more susceptible to congestion than cyclists and walkers
        >(in fact, Wm. Holly Whyte, in _City: Rediscovering the Center_, pointed
        >out that sidewalk congestion _attracts_ those on foot). Last Friday, I
        >and an associate challenged the policy people at Transport Canada who
        >said that congestion was bad; we said that it was a natural way to
        >allocate a limited resource, especially when the activity itself is
        not a
        >desirable one."
        >
        >Congestion is natural in the sense that it is an inevitable outcome of
        >inadequately rationed access to a congestable and sought after
        resource.
        >Being natural doesn't make a phenomena a publicly desirable influence on
        >the allocation of a resource. Pollution and theft are also consequences
        >that have the virtue of being natural.
        >However, people aren't ultimately interested in whether a feature of
        >their economic environment can be called natural; the bottom line is how
        >the resulting allocation of resources affects their lives.
        >
        >In the above quote, Mr. Bradshaw presents punishment or its adequacy as
        >the relevant dimension from which to evaluate policy for motor traffic
        >regulation. According to Bradshaw, drivers who are trying to use the
        >same congested road are punishing one another in measured fashion.
        >
        >If the purpose of punishment is to create discomfort or harm, then
        >uncontrolled access works well to generate this curious public goal.
        >If the purpose of punishment is to deter behavior that that has negative
        >consequences for other members of society, the mere fact of congestion
        >points to its inadequacy as a deterant.
        >
        >I think most people would be glad to know that we aren't constrained to
        >consider policy simply in terms of meting out punishment.
        >Congestion tolls aren't retributive; they are an attempt to produce a
        >market to efficiently allocate scarce road space.

        I really don't know what Mr. Bradshaw had in mind, but personally I
        have interpreted the word "punishment" (combined with the word
        "natural") rather in a pragmatic way, than in an ethical one - and it
        did make sense to me. Congestion is indeed an inadequate deterant of
        driving, but still one deterant. Without congestion people would in
        many cases drive more. It creates also a chance for the turning
        towards a public transit and other transport modes favouring policy.
        Congestion pricing is another policy of course. Different people will
        be profited in each case.

        >It doesn't bother me that motorists on congestion tolled roads would
        >enjoy their drives more than they would on congested open-access roads.
        >I would like to see an end to all the perverse incentives that make
        >driving more attractive than it should be.

        I am afraid that congestion pricing is actually making driving more
        attractive - at least to those willing and able to pay for it.

        >Of course, there are economic interests who prefer the status-quo.
        >When, for a majority of citizens, the automotile oriented life is the
        >most affordable means of enjoying the good life, there will be plenty of
        >political demand for more roads. Were citizens to bear the full cost of
        >their decision to drive - including those costs they otherwise impose
        >only on other drivers, they would seek other housing options, other
        >services, and less motor infrastructure. This wouldn't be the best
        thing
        >for GM, Mobile, or a variety of other interests. It would be a much
        >better thing for future generations, the environment, and the bulk of us
        >alive today.

        I am not certain at all that it is not "the best thing for GM, Mobile,
        or a variety of other interests". The current road infrastructure
        increase model has been proven unfeasible. It is impossible to satisfy
        continuously (and mostly for free - or at least badly priced) the ever
        growing demand for motor infrastructure, consuming land space,
        increasing the distances, which create more demand etc (i.e. a vicious
        circle). At some point a choice has to be made. Whether some kind of
        management of the scarce space has to be made, or a shift to other
        transport modes (e.g. biking, collective transport media etc). What
        choice is best for "GM, Mobile, or a variety of other interests"?

        >I haven't examined the road pricing scheme being discussed in England.
        >There are some methods, including at least one that uses GPS, that don't
        >relay or store vehicle position information.
        >Instead, a charge is calculated on board and only the amount owed is
        >stored in a box in the vehicle.

        Perhaps this confronts in some degree the privacy problems, but opens
        up the possibility for disputes, especially in case of instruments
        failure or malfunction.
      • dubluth
        ... accidental ... One scheme to internalize environmental costs would be the inclusion of an environmental user fee in the gas tax. This hasn t been
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 21, 2003
          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "ktsourl" <ktsourl@m...> wrote:
          -------snip------------------>
          > Why awareness of environmental and the other external costs didn't
          > drive the development of schemes to internalize them? Is it
          accidental
          > that congestion costs are the only part of the external cost of
          > driving borne entirely by the drivers themselves, and mostly by the
          > wealthiest among them?

          One scheme to internalize environmental costs would be the inclusion
          of an environmental user fee in the gas tax. This hasn't been
          implemented for the following and other reasons.

          In the US, gas taxes were implemented to add to the revenue base for
          road building. In my state, the statute establishing the gas tax
          restricts the funds it raises to highway transportation projects. I
          expect that this is the situation in most or all states.

          Since an obvious harm of motor transport is the tail pipe emmissions,
          it would make sense for taxes on gasoline and diesel to include
          environmental user fees. This is prevented by the bad restrictions
          on the use of the tax revenues.

          Another impediment against schemes to internalize some external costs
          is the tradition in the US of using only non-market instruments in
          environmental policy. We wrongly expect to manage environmental and
          economic progress by mandating technologies, funding automaker R&D
          without any requirement to implement, and setting standards that
          polluters can work around.

          The traditional focus has been to reduce external environmental costs
          rather than internalize them. Internalizing costs would give
          polluters incentives to find ways of reducing emmissions. With the
          other regulatory approaches, the major incentives are to work around
          and lobby to change regulations.

          It may be more easy to implement congestion pricing than to alter gas
          taxes so that they include of environmental user fees. It is a
          matter of political will. Why not be realistic about this?

          The fact remains that congestion pricing is not in conflict with any
          other policy to internalize costs. Wanting to internalize some costs
          and not others is inconsistent.

          I don't see any virtue in a policy just because the social costs it
          escalates are put more on one group than another. Wouldn't it be
          better let some drivers pay other drivers to not drive? Is there a
          strategy in denying the benefits of such trade to both parties? I am
          in favor of strategy that actually works. As I understand it, you
          are saying we should keep the presumably poorer drivers on the road
          for the sake of increasing the costs to all drivers - but especially
          richer drivers, who it costs more because their time is more precious.

          I am not arguing in favor of any particular scheme of internalizing
          or controlling costs. I'm in favor of whatever is feasible and
          effective. Other schemes have been discussed recently on the list
          which may have particular virtue.

          Bill Carr
        • ktsourl
          I am not saying at all, that we should keep the presumably poorer drivers on the road for the sake of increasing the costs to all drivers . What I am saying
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 24, 2003
            I am not saying at all, that "we should keep the presumably poorer
            drivers on the road for the sake of increasing the costs to all
            drivers". What I am saying is that we should keep _all_ drivers off
            the road for the sake of improving the quality of life of the whole
            society. Instead of disposing the precious road space to those willing
            and able to pay, it would be better to use this space for other
            purposes (parks e.g.) and use environmental and human friendly
            transport media (walking, bicycles etc and collective media for larger
            distances). Internalization of external cost is a medium to alter the
            present situation, not the final purpose - at least for those who
            don't take a religious-like stance towards market mechanisms.

            I think also that the term "road pricing" reflects better than the
            term "congestion pricing" the nature of this cost. "Congestion
            pricing" implies that the cost collected from those willing to pay
            must remunerate those willing to drive, who retreat for the benefit of
            the former. However the road space belongs as well (and equally) to
            those who are not willing or not able to drive (walkers, bikers, poor
            people etc) and don't suffer from congestion (but from other car
            consequences).

            To end where we started from, I'm not entirely against London
            transport pricing scheme, but I think that it has, from a carfree and
            sustainable mobility viewpoint, positive and negative elements as
            well. Whether the former or the latter prevail is not obvious and it
            is a matter of estimation in the long run.

            In any case it would be much better if the price paid by the drivers
            were considered that reflects the harm and the damage inflicted to the
            society (noise, pollution, accidents, obstruction to pedestrians etc)
            and not the discomfort of other drivers. It is more important to
            change the mentality, than to just create deterrent financial
            automatisms. A correctly informed public opinion would bring about the
            political will and make realistic measures against motorized traffic.
            Deterrent financial automatisms (while not useless or undesirable per
            se), is possible, under some circumstances, to just cover up and
            further obscure the inherent unfeasibility and unsustainability of the
            current situation.

            I think most people wouldn't be satisfied at all if we end up allowing
            to those willing and able to pay to "buy" the pollution, the noise,
            the "accidents" and generally the harm incurred to the rest, in order
            to move themselves faster and more conveniently. This would be
            equivalent to sell the environment which belongs to the society (and -
            in a larger scale - the humanity) to this "elite".

            --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "dubluth" <dubluth@y...> wrote:
            > --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "ktsourl" <ktsourl@m...> wrote:
            > -------snip------------------>
            > > Why awareness of environmental and the other external costs didn't
            > > drive the development of schemes to internalize them? Is it
            > accidental
            > > that congestion costs are the only part of the external cost of
            > > driving borne entirely by the drivers themselves, and mostly by the
            > > wealthiest among them?
            >
            > One scheme to internalize environmental costs would be the inclusion
            > of an environmental user fee in the gas tax. This hasn't been
            > implemented for the following and other reasons.
            >
            > In the US, gas taxes were implemented to add to the revenue base for
            > road building. In my state, the statute establishing the gas tax
            > restricts the funds it raises to highway transportation projects. I
            > expect that this is the situation in most or all states.
            >
            > Since an obvious harm of motor transport is the tail pipe emmissions,
            > it would make sense for taxes on gasoline and diesel to include
            > environmental user fees. This is prevented by the bad restrictions
            > on the use of the tax revenues.
            >
            > Another impediment against schemes to internalize some external costs
            > is the tradition in the US of using only non-market instruments in
            > environmental policy. We wrongly expect to manage environmental and
            > economic progress by mandating technologies, funding automaker R&D
            > without any requirement to implement, and setting standards that
            > polluters can work around.
            >
            > The traditional focus has been to reduce external environmental costs
            > rather than internalize them. Internalizing costs would give
            > polluters incentives to find ways of reducing emmissions. With the
            > other regulatory approaches, the major incentives are to work around
            > and lobby to change regulations.
            >
            > It may be more easy to implement congestion pricing than to alter gas
            > taxes so that they include of environmental user fees. It is a
            > matter of political will. Why not be realistic about this?
            >
            > The fact remains that congestion pricing is not in conflict with any
            > other policy to internalize costs. Wanting to internalize some costs
            > and not others is inconsistent.
            >
            > I don't see any virtue in a policy just because the social costs it
            > escalates are put more on one group than another. Wouldn't it be
            > better let some drivers pay other drivers to not drive? Is there a
            > strategy in denying the benefits of such trade to both parties? I am
            > in favor of strategy that actually works. As I understand it, you
            > are saying we should keep the presumably poorer drivers on the road
            > for the sake of increasing the costs to all drivers - but especially
            > richer drivers, who it costs more because their time is more precious.
            >
            > I am not arguing in favor of any particular scheme of internalizing
            > or controlling costs. I'm in favor of whatever is feasible and
            > effective. Other schemes have been discussed recently on the list
            > which may have particular virtue.
            >
            > Bill Carr
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