has an interesting twist on congestion pricing today, riffing off a NYT article
congestion. The question: Does subway congestion make congestion pricing
more problematic, or does it, on the other hand, make congestion pricing more
The first view is encapsulated in the article, and it basically boils down
Congestion pricing involves moving the public from cars and onto public
But the subway system is already running at capacity.
Therefore, congestion pricing has big problems.
That’s not how Gumby sees it, however. In fact, he says,
Congestion pricing, as it developed in London, though less so in Singapore,
starts with the assumption that large and mature cities have very little room
to expand their subway/rail/light rail systems.
Congestion pricing, on this view, is an attempt to get people out of the subway,
and onto buses. But no one is going to take the bus if the roads are ridiculously
congested. So you need to clear up space on the roads, by charging cars to enter
the congested zones. Think of it like this:
The subway system is running at capacity.
To reduce the strain on the subways, bus ridership will have to go up.
But buses are dreadful, because of congestion.
So we have to implement congestion pricing to reduce congestion and increase
It has worked in London, but I have to admit that it’s going to be harder to
make it work in New York. One important reason why is that New York sets the
fare for a bus ride at exactly the same as the fare for a subway ride. That
gives no incentive at all to move from the subways to the buses: either bus
fares need to come down, or subway fares need to go up. And then, of course,
the number of buses on any given route has to increase substantially, so that
buses arrive at least as frequently as subways.
All you need then is a good network of bus lanes, a substantial reduction in
Manhattan traffic, and a wholesale change in public attitudes towards riding
the bus. Easy!