Neither the rich+, nor the poor, nor the vast majority of the middle class regularly commute into Manhattan by car. The poor and the lower/middle middle class because parking is prohibitively expensive. The upper middle class and the rich because they either live in Manhattan or they'd rather take commuter rail than sit in traffic. To the extent the latter take ubers or similar such services already pay congestion charges and there isn't too much fuss (except from the drives who don't have much political muscle).
The bulk of car commuters into Manhattan are instead those with de jure or de facto free parking. That's largely government workers (e.g. teachers, cops, firefighters) and members of the trades (i.e. construction workers).
For those with de jure free parking congestion pricing isn't a big deal, whatever authority is setting aside parking will either pay the congestion charge or get it waived. It's the beneficiaries of police and traffic control refusal to enforce the law with respect to certain favored populations that are up in arms about congestion charges. Because a congestion charge is likely to be enforced by an automated mechanism which, unlike parking control, will not engage in public corruption on their behalf. And these groups, unlike the uber drivers, do have a great deal of political muscle.
+At least the ordinary rich, hecto-millionaires and billionaires might be a different story
Imagine your in charge of, say, taking care of a large planter. You need to bring with you:
- Half a pickup truck of new plants
- A few bags of fresh soil
- A few shovels, buckets, a hose, and other similar tools
They key is really just that vehicles are necessary to transport large quantities of stuff, regardless of whether or not it's a delivery vehicle. I think you'll find that a number of trades include low income workers who are moving around large quantities of stuff.
(This is not intended to be taken as arguing for or against congestion charges or any other policy involving shuffling money around, just against the logic of the above post and outright banning things other than delivery vehicles)
The first is that you're going to have investment banks declaring their employees cars as commercial.
The second is that you don't have to be a business to take a job taking care of a planter (or whatever). You probably are, but it's not required.
I agree with the principal that "nobody needs to commute in a personal vehicle", but I find it hard to codify it into a reliable law.
Edit: Actually I like Nihonde's own modification: “small trucks/vans on demonstrable business”, I'd add "involving transporting stuff for use in the city".
It will probably still be gamed, but the ambiguity of the wording allows selective enforcement to fight the worst of that.
Edit 2: Actually I don't, considering the other discussions in this thread about police abusing their authority giving them more ambiguous laws seems like a bad idea.
Also - This is a perfect example of why I try to avoid advocating for/against policies on the internet unless it's abundantly clear that they are good/bad.
If you really need to drive around in lower Manhattan once in a while (e.g. you are doing a big run to Home Depot), you pay the $5 fee. Unless you are truly destitute, it's not that bad to pay a couple times a year.
The price system isn't perfect, but it's pretty damn efficient at controlling quantity demanded.
EDIT: I'm not saying wheelchair-bound and other similar people should be banned from driving. Like today, we can add wheelchair-only parking accommodations. In fact, restricting traffic to only people with a genuine need will make their trips faster.
Besides, even if you are on a wheelchair with lower body paralysis you can still drive with hand controls.
for buses Otherwise there will be clear roads to have a good bus system that can run express and local lines better, can start shutting down the subway for a few hours a day, and the bus should work just as well
I recently played for a contra dance in Manhattan. My band members and I drove in a small car, with a sound system, keyboard, and other instruments. I would have been happy to pay some sort of toll/charge/fee/tax but any other way of getting our equipment to and from the gig would be far more expensive and a lot of a hassle.
(My family doesn't have a car, and I commute to work on the subway)
I think the article is trying to get to this train of thought.
We want X that requires a vehicle, instead of assuming that this is a zero cost activity lets factor in the cost of parking, mileage etc.
Assuming for a moment that the total cost was an extra $200 any self respecting contra dance should be able to spread that out at $1-$2 per person.
I grew up in a musical family and spent many a weekend covering vast distances in the back of an old car so my dad could play a gig that barely broke even. Reminds me of the definition of a musician: "A musician is someone who will load $5,000 worth of gear into a $500 car to drive 100 miles to a $50 gig."
But seriously, people need to value things correctly. I spent some time on a local council and the shopkeepers would be up in arms whenever they thought they'd lose a parking spot, despite every census showing most of their customers walked to their stores. The shopkeepers viewed the parking as "their parking" and not "our parking" (As in the community). Yet for some reason the footpaths were most definitely "ours footpaths" (The council's) so repairing or even cleaning them was the Council's job, and heaven forbid we suggest the shops pay towards that cost.
Its common in Seattle for the city to do basic maintenance on a sidewalk, and bill the property owner for the amount, as they failed to maintain their sidewalk (whether Ivy has overgrown the sidewalk, roots have uplifted it, or its become a public health hazard due to lack of cleaning).
It is really nice to walk on freshly steam cleaned or pressure washed sidewalks :P
I often return to New York with a carful of groceries, luggage, etc. I've tried this via public transit -- it's a miserable affair. The utility of a personal vehicle for me is very high -- perhaps substantially higher than it would be for you.
There's no need to justify vehicles based on economic classes and livelihood. Why does the car debate need to be made into some kind of class conflict? It's just more convenient and pleasant, and that's how some choose to spend their money.
I'm sorry it inconveniences you, but our society exists because we're willing to be slightly inconvenienced by our neighbors (especially those with different preferences than us) in exchange for certain benefits.
Things that you have to consider (The numbers attached are completely made up and probably off by multiple orders of magnitude in most cases, but are to make the point that you should be assigning costs to these things. Then you should multiply by them by reasonable estimates of the quantities that make up the denominator on the unit and see what you come up with. Also note that as there are less cars on the road the externalities per car probably go up):
- Air quality (say, 0.1c per person you drive past?)
- Noise polution (say, 0.1c per person you drive past?)
- Road size - realestate cost (say, 0.000001c/trip per per person who pays taxes?)
- Road size - increased walking (and other travel) time (say, 0.0000001c/trip per person who crosses a road you drove on?)
- Congestion (say, 1c for everyone on a bus behind you?)
- Road maintenance (probably negligible compared to the other costs)
- Pedestrian safety (...)
- Climate change (...)
Our society exists not just because we're willing to be slightly inconvenienced by our neighbors, but because we are willing to go to reasonable lengths to avoid inconveniencing our neighbors. Perhaps, reasonable lengths includes not driving into the city.
Adjusting those estimates (only) for inflation, they work out to about $2.14 per gallon in driving externalities.
I'm not aware of any studies that attempted to estimate them in such an environment, I think that local factors (basically density of people) change the calculation substantially.
Also note that you are only calculating the costs of cars to others, not the benefits. Cars allow workers to spend less time commuting and be more productive at work, which benefits strangers. They allow people to travel farther to make purchases. They encourage the purchase of larger objects that can't be carried by hand for long distances. Their gas taxes help pay for the roads that people walk and ride bicycles on. Their tolls pay for the maintenance of bridges that bicycles and trains travel on.
I'm a fan of congestion pricing, but the purpose of congestion pricing is to reduce congestion, not to be a sin tax on driving. If people time shift their driving, that's fine.
What would the charge per car have to be to cross that street corner to possibly equal out all the time being wasted by all those pedestrians (times their hourly rate) waiting for those cars? I have to imagine it would be in the thousands of dollars per intersection or more.
There aren’t very many people in the world whose time is so valuable that it outweighs hundreds of other people’s, especially given that a random person trying to get to work in Manhattan him or herself is likely to be decently productive on average.
Even if you take into account the multiplied factor of personal vehicles that would otherwise (possibly) be on the road, the sounds would be much more spread out.
When I’m having an al fresco meal in the city, I never notice the cars. The snarling and snorting buses interrupt conversations.
You're missunderstanding me, I'm just stating the possible conclusion that makes this an interesting argument (that it's ridiculously high and no one would pay it except on rare occasion) before the logic (look at all these externalities).
> you should actually calculate the externalities
That sounds like inviting lots of nitpicking debate on the internet. I invite you to though. If you do so in good faith and come up with a number that is reasonably low, well congrats, you shouldn't find the argument convincing.
> you should do so for competing modes of transportation.
True - I haven't personally because I think it's intuitive that they are far lower, if you disagree feel free to include them in your version of the calculation.
> you are only calculating the costs of cars to others, not the benefits.
I struggle to think of any positive externalities for personal cars. Everything you list are benefits to the owner except tolls. Tolls naturally don't count because that's the mechanism by which we ask them to pay for their externalities, to count them as a positive would be double counting.
If you think there are some compelling ones, again, feel free to include them in your version of the calculation.
> a sin tax on driving
Pricing in externalities is not a "sin tax". A sin tax would be "being lazy (driving) is a sin so we're going to tax them for driving".
Of course this is aggregate data. Congestion costs are higher in cities and higher during peak driving hours, so it makes sense to have dynamic pricing for that.
1. Quantifying the External Costs of Vehicle Use: Evidence from America’s Top Selling Light-Duty Models (http://www.ce.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman/public_html/trb08veh...)
My first Google result shows that Manhattan is, at its most expensive, $90 million per acre: https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/2100-a-square-...
This matches my intuition that cars are much more massively subsidized in city centers (where they should be heavily discouraged) than in suburbs (where they're mostly fine).
I also think roads have way higher value than other land, because they connect spaces. Think of it this way: you can build 99% of a wall, and I can still cross from one side to the other, but if you build 100% of a wall, I can't. So that last 1% of a wall has significantly higher externality cost than the first 99% of a wall.
Similarly, the existence of a road makes it impossible to cross a street without waiting. It's the last 1% of the land necessary for going from one part of a city to another, and so it's way more valuable than the price per acre would suggest.
Your study also doesn't include infrastructure costs, and also costs in inconvenience to pedestrians.
Your study also estimates congestion cost based on the assumption that 10% of travel is under congested conditions, but in Manhattan this is closer to 100%.
All your study's costs are conservative estimates.
In conclusion, I completely agree with the overall conclusion that car usage in most of the US has relatively low externality costs. I just massively disagree that car usage in a superdense city center like Manhattan also has relatively low externality costs.
> It is also important to recognize that the five external costs calculated in this analysis do not encompass all possible external costs associated with vehicle ownership and use. For example, noise pollution imposes significant costs.
Not only does it not even attempt to put a total cost per mile - which I read as the main reason why you cited it. It directly contradicts you when you say "Noise is also a rounding error".
It specifically excludes some of the biggest costs
> Based on his review of the transport-cost literature, Litman (2002) believes that the largest external costs of automobile ownership and use relate to land use impacts [...] However, these costs are, to a large extent, indirect. In other words, they are a result of auto-oriented travel patterns and will not vary much by vehicle type, make and model. Thus, they are not examined here.
Another quote to make it extra clear that this study really doesn't say what you are claiming it does
> Many other external costs associated with driving exist, and many of these have been characterized at an aggregate scale, rather than by make and model. For instance, [...] disposal costs. Water contamination [...]. However, like the noise and land use costs described above, these other costs are difficult to distinguish by make and model. Thus, they are not covered here
A quote explaining what the study is about
> While certain studies have analyzed other types of external cost, beyond the five quantified here, these studies have been aggregate in nature, focusing on passenger vehicles as a whole, or cars versus light-duty trucks. In contrast, this work looks at likely variations across specific makes and models.
So while I assume that it's a perfectly valid study it really doesn't apply.
The study's numbers are far more connected to reality than your made up numbers. You are making an isolated demand for rigor.
Your study has a clear systematic bias (edit: Actually it doesn't even say what you claimed it did, but if it did it would have a clear systematic bias), that most costs scale with population density, and it was done studying an area (the US) with a much lower population density than the area at hand (manhattan). Assuming your study is entirely correct, its answer is incorrect when applied to the problem at hand. You would have to be an idiot to rely on it because the only way it is "right" is by being incorrect by the right amount in the right direction by sheer chance.
Likewise, if you tried to apply a study about public transportation done in the middle of the Sahara Desert to San Francisco, I would call you an idiot.
How about we start taxing loud talkers?
> Pedestrian safety. Congestion.
And people who take up the whole sidewalk.
I don’t see people arguing for extreme measures, to the point of “ridiculousness”, to improve the state of walking around cities. So I don’t take this too seriously, it doesn’t seem to be done in good faith so much as, “I don’t like cars and there are some negative externalities, let’s use this as an excuse to really screw over anyone who thinks to use one.”
And of course, this is how a coastal elite most likely feels meanwhile they think traveling by airplane is okay or should even be celebrated.
It’s not in good faith.
Admittedly a big focus on reducing cars in major cities likely is coming from the fact that the wealthy started moving to major cities rather than commuting from suburbia. Other people car commuting really does hurt their quality of life. But that seems more an argument that we should bring these policies even to poorer dense urban areas rather than limiting their roll-out only to Manhattan and other wealthy enclaves.
As far as climate change; if NYC went to zero CO2, it wouldn’t make a single bit of difference compared to a single day’s worth of pollution compared to a small Chinese or Indian city. Perhaps a tariff on all goods and services from China or India would be more effective than banning cars in NYC. Banning cars from NYC would have a cosmetic effect on climate change and nothing more. And, in case you weren’t aware, cars already pay huge costs in NYC. It costs over $10 just to cross a bridge or tunnel into NYC. They don’t pay a toll to leave NYC: so someone is getting money just for a car to enter the city.
I live in Atlanta, a place the NYTimes often writes about our lack of income mobility because of a lack of mobility. I also live 2 blocks from the southernmost transit (midtown) connected grocery store that gets a lot of business from the poorer south side of the city.
So, when you say "try transporting kids or groceries on the subway" I (and transitively, the nytimes) ask, which kids? because it's not the 20% of Atlantans that are low income and that have kids and multiple hourly wage jobs that can readily afford the costs of a car -- and they're already doing it, in a city more sprawled than NYC and other cities.
Err. I was transported plenty as a kid on the subway without using elevators, so were many other kids.
Groceries... generally you just walk. I live in a less dense city and it's never been a problem walking to the grocery store. Including for my parents when I was a kid.
> sidewalks are cleared of...
I mean, getting rid of cars means more room for sidewalks mean they are defacto cleared of this stuff. The reason it's a problem right now is they are packed into the same 5 feet as the pedestrians.
> As far as climate change; if NYC went to zero CO2...
I suspect you are right. I put what I consider the least compelling reasons at the bottom.
> cars already pay huge costs in NYC. It costs over $10
$10 really isn't that much money... as demonstrated by the number of people who pay it. Understand that when I say the right number might be "ridiculous" I do mean "ridiculous". I'm avoiding saying specific numbers because then I have to justify them, but think thousands, possibly large numbers of thousands.
When I lived in an area where I could commute by subway, I had a full service grocery store and several smaller specialty markets (a produce market, a butcher and a bakery) on my way home (well I had to get out one stop early to pass the butcher). I see plenty of parents with kids on the subway -- though none of them have the full-size strollers you see coming out of the backs of SUVs.
So instead of making one large shopping trip every week or two, I'd stop several times a week on my way home.
Though now I just buy groceries online and have them delivered, in the rare cases where I do want to go to the supermarket, I take my bike.
Though now I just buy groceries online and have them delivered
Though in my case, I usually alternate between bus and bike to work, so if I did drive to the store, it'd be a round trip. If I bike to the store, it means a round-trip from home since I usually have one or 2 commuter panniers on the bike when I go to work, and don't want to haul the empty trailer all the way to work and back.
Does it? A truck uses around the same road space as a car
so if it removes one person in the neighborhood's round trip to the store
I don't think you read my entire comment: "When I lived in an area where I could commute by subway, I had a full service grocery store and several smaller specialty markets (a produce market, a butcher and a bakery) on my way home"
I was referring to the comment asking how to shop by subway -- the answer is to shop in smaller increments, but now that I bus/bike to work and no longer walk past a grocery store on my way home, I just have groceries delivered.
Your answer seems to be saying that the answer to shopping on the subway is to not take the subway and drive to work and stop at the store on the way home.
It's also common to buy things at a store like a PC or printer or microwave and have them delivered instead of carrying them home.
Japan's shipping services are relatively cheap and generally pretty good at delivering in 2hr windows
>Why does the car debate need to be made into some kind of class conflict?
because it's simply not sustainable for everybody who wants to drive a car to do so. there isn't physically enough space. The only way to let some people drive a car is to make it expensive enough to discourage most people from driving a car.
There's a certain amount of trading inconveniences that goes on in life. Think about an apartment building--maybe the guy in 4B has a dog that barks occasionally, the couple in 7D throws a big party twice a year, the woman in 2F hasn't bothered anyone in two years but back then she threw up all over the elevator and didn't clean it up, and so on. There's no explicit accounting but there's a rough justice. When that gets too far out of balance people get justifiably angry.
If you routinely drive in Manhattan and each time inconvenience thousands of people, how can you ever hope to balance those books?
My SO and I each make 6 figures each and will only own a car once we move out of Manhattan because no matter how inconvenient it is it's not fiscally responsible.
How do you expect to get your plumbing fixed?
And electric buses ASAP. They’re the loudest and dirtiest vehicles out here. And definitely no more tour buses.
That would make this city soar in terms of places people want to live and visit.
You do realize tourism accounts for a great deal of income for NYC, yes?
NYC already has rampant abuse of placards and literal "get out of jail" cards. A ban on personal vehicles wouldn't go any differently than those.
It seems to me some of these arguments prove too much. If you are rich enough to pay for convenient parking garages everywhere you want to go, you are rich enough to pay a congestion charge. And if you aren’t then how does a private car solve the problems you are pointing out?
It's remarkably difficult for disabled people and many elderly people to get around by public transportation.
Ban cars and you make NY terrible for business. And if you haven't noticed, Manhattan exists for business. Everything else is either necessary for that goal or an unintended consequence.
So much of law enforcement abuse of power depends on intimidation and (most) people’s default reaction to trust their authority in all situations (which is also essential to their abuse of placards).
I had a similar experience where police straight up lied about tenant laws during an eviction process of the, protecting the most awful and abusive tenant (who was a cocaine dealer) a family friend had to deal with. The family member was immediately willing to believe the police, and had another family friend not been a lawyer who was familiar with tenant law and knows very well from professional experience never to trust police outright. The result was saving the family over a thousand dollars (out of multiple thousand owed), as the timing of them leaving the property, which the police was attempting to mess with, was very important in the legal process of a later claim.
The officer essentially conceded on the spot he had no legal grounds for what he had previously claimed with such confident authority, with plenty of weasel words, and just left.
Now, the police will never tell you whether an order is lawful, they’ll try whatever they think they can get away with. So whatever the citizen/police equivalent of “Caveat Emptor” is, it definitely applies in these situations; asymmetric information is not your friend.
Not to mention that police have very little education on the law in the first place; “criminal justice” or “administration of justice"—what amounts to the practice of law enforcement—maybe, but that has a more distant and tenuous connection to law than one might think.
It's doubly galling when it's "courtesy" extended to non-police. A lot of officers can argue that they need to get to work and they need to park somewhere. Police cars also have to be parked somewhere. The City will need a carrot as well as a stick.
But when it's stuff like "NYPD Family Member", I think only of collecting and sharing new four-letter expletives. That's just flat-out corruption.
There's a thriving secondary market for that.
New York City in particular has a MEDICAL ONLY section of its pension benefits for city employees that adds up to $100 Billion. Medical, only. Not including pension payouts.
Puerto Rico defaulted on $71 Billion worth of debt, which was all of it, just recently.
This reckoning that is on its way is going to be epic. Nothing in NYC government makes a profit or operates properly without gigantic losses and pathetic performance in every metric when compared to the past city performance.
This will be the Olympics of Mental Gymnastics.
Why _would_ a city government make a profit? It's a government after all, not a business.
Comparing Puerto Rico with a city with multiple times its inhabitants and many many times its economic power isn't exactly saying much either
Puerto Rico population: 3.3 million
NYC per capita GDP: 64000
Puero rico per capita GDP: 31000
Not to mention the brain drain from Puerto Rico, or there special status as an unicorporated territory (and resulting lack of political power)
NYC traffic really isn’t that bad anyway. Congestion pricing is all about revenue.
Or sometimes just some stickers from the various police quasi-unions in the tristate area.
Last year they rolled out automatic congestion pricing for SOVs. All the news stories were about how the toll could hit a ridiculous-seeming price of $40+, but that was usually only for a few minutes in the morning rush. Buried in the articles several paragraphs in would be a note that, oh yeah, it had been illegal to drive alone. Now a year later, peoples’ habits have changed and the toll has done its job. Commuters have effectively time-shifted, alleviating and smoothing congestion. It has been so effective that the length of I-66 subject to this treatment will be extended.
I’m a smalltime neighborhood elected official in DC and I really hope I can convince DDOT to roll out bus lanes faster.
Also, has anyone computed the cost of the economic externalities here? Time shifting ones commute either has severe financial repercussions for the employer (lost productivity) or the employees (a decrease in effective wages).
I suspect those numbers will dwarf the cost of investing in a light rail system or widening the road after a few years.
Similarly, if traffic is below about 45mph, then further slowing traffic increases CO2 emissions by lowering fuel efficiency, and the congestion on the road distorts property values, lowering prices in more places than it helps them, which hurts school funding (especially in minority areas), etc, etc.
As I said in the other comment, consider raising peak commute throughput instead of devising ways to suppress peak demand.
"In August 2018, speeds on I-66 averaged 56.2 miles per hour, compared to 52.7 miles per hour for the same time period in 2017."
Also, bear in mind the Metrorail orange line runs along I-66, so mass transit is available. The DC region's workforce is highly educated and many workers have a decent degree of freedom about their schedule. It sounds like people have also been carpooling more, too. That goes to your point about raising peak throughput -- the easy way to avoid paying the toll is to have someone along for the ride, too, which doubles throughput (at a minimum; have a full car and whoa, Nellie). How many billions would it cost to double throughput for SOVs?
Getting rid of most of the cars and putting people on trains does wonders for peak throughput.
Getting people on trains by forcing them out of cars can't actually do that. If you make it more expensive/inconvenient/impossible to drive, at most the same number of people will take the train. In practice fewer will, because some of them will find jobs somewhere else or do their shopping somewhere else etc. So the combined throughput inherently goes down.
The only way to get it to go up is to make something better instead of making something worse.
Even moderately dense urban areas are inherently poor places for personal automobiles, whose infrastructure wastes tremendous amounts of space. The more neighborhoods are optimized for human-scale activity and pedestrians/bikes/transit (at the expense of personal cars), the nicer they become to spend time in as a human.
Life in a place where all or nearly all trips can be made without needing to drive a car is very pleasant, especially for anyone who isn’t an able-bodied high-income adult. If neighborhoods have been designed so that that is impossible, then what needs fixing is the neighborhood design.
I've found the exact opposite to be true. Cars are great because they mean you'll never come in contact with crazy vagrants.
For a few years I tried taking public transportation in the bay area, but I gave up because I had too many encounters with insane homeless people. I've had crazy people scream at me and call me things like "faggot" or "peckerwood". I've had people threaten to rob me after I asked them to turn their music down on the bus. They're never caught by the police. The last time I was on BART, a guy smoked meth and threatened to kick the shit out of me if I called the cops. He got off at the next station and the cops never caught him.
Now I avoid public transportation and either drive or take Uber or Lyft.
But the widespread use of transit by the poor which you note here is great evidence for my claim that cars are not an effective means of transportation for low-income people.
If people are screaming at you or smoking meth on the bus, that’s indicative of broader social problems which aren’t really solved by changing the transportation system. American society does a really terrible job at providing housing, drug treatment, and other social support for people with mental health problems.
For what it’s worth, I ride buses, trams, the subway, etc. all around San Francisco on a daily basis with my 2-year-old, and haven’t ever felt threatened. My general impression is that many yuppies feel unreasonable amounts of fear / disgust when they come into brief social contact with the homeless or mentally ill. YMMV.
Knowing the proximate cause doesn't help me avoid crazy people on public transportation. The problem of crazy people in the bay area won't be fixed any time soon, so it's still in my best interests to avoid public transportation. Also, it's not clear to me that many of these people can be fixed. The bay area spends enormous amounts of money on mental health and homelessness, but the problem is far worse here than it is in Boston.
> For what it’s worth, I ride buses, trams, the subway, etc. all around San Francisco on a daily basis with my 2-year-old, and haven’t ever felt threatened.
There's no nice way to say this but... I don't believe you. Every single one of my coworkers has a horror story about public transportation in the bay area. Robbery, theft, stalking, threats, harassment, catcalling, etcetera. There is only one woman at my work who commutes via BART, and she's only been doing it for 3 weeks. The rest drive or take Uber/Lyft because they've been robbed or threatened in the past. I think it's much more likely that my friends & coworkers are telling the truth than that you are. Either that or your threshold for feeling unsafe is incredibly high.
If you regularly take public transportation in the bay area, you will encounter mentally ill people, and some of them will engage in violent behavior without provocation.
You don’t believe that I travel by bus/subway/etc. and don’t feel unsafe?
There are people of all ages, ethnic groups, social classes, occupations, etc. riding transit throughout the Bay Area every day: foreign tourists; nannies with strollers; pensioners buying groceries; businesspeople commuting; high school students; sports fans; families taking luggage to the airport; .....
There are certainly occasional violent incidents on transit. Out of the 400k BART trips every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a dozen pick-pocketed wallets/phones every day, and the occasional mugging. If I were a small 12 year old girl, there are some BART stations I probably wouldn’t want to be alone in at midnight.
But crime on transit is not common (in general mugging and other violent crime in cities are down dramatically from the peak a few decades ago), and I have never personally felt threatened.
My wife commutes to work in SF by bike, and that is unfortunately far more dangerous (especially with all of the crazy Uber/Lyft drivers these days) than riding the bus.
> Every single one of my coworkers has a horror story
How many of your co-workers grew up in a not-rich family in a city?
and the occasional mugging
There are also 400 traffic deaths and 2000 traffic injuries per year in the Bay Area.
Statistically, the BART is a very safe way to travel.
I sympathize with your experience, but if I had to count the number of times I've had bad encounters with bad drivers vs. the times with bad commuters on public transit, it doesn't come close. I submit it's very possible that you're underestimating the negativity with cars because you've normalized it. For example, the statistics bare out that cars are amongst the most deadly thing in America but people ignore it as a problem compared to say gun violence which is a political hot topic.
Then what do you need congestion pricing for? You don't need to suppress something that's worse than the alternative because if that were true nobody should have any desire to do it to begin with.
> Even moderately dense urban areas are inherently poor places for personal automobiles, whose infrastructure wastes tremendous amounts of space.
Congestion pricing doesn't change the amount of space allocated to those things. That's completely independent. You can build over roads or eliminate minimum parking requirements without congestion pricing. That also suppresses driving, but in that case it's a trade off which people are actually getting something out of, instead of just a regressive money grab that helps nobody but the corrupt politicians who will waste the money on pork. And then keep all the wide roads and parking spaces in the city because it's the only way to continue generating the congestion pricing revenue.
The context was another comment criticizing congestion pricing as more or less a band-aid and advocating for increasing transportation throughput instead of trying to shift demand. I was agreeing with that comment and proposing radical changes to the transportation system as a way to increase throughput.
Your nonsensical response was that replacing roads by trains wouldn’t actually increase throughput because people like car trips better. While it went without saying that this claim is wrong on its face (throughput of the transportation system is a property largely unrelated to passenger preferences), I furthermore disputed your claim that car trips are inherently better.
Your follow-up here is a non sequitur. It is obvious that congestion pricing doesn’t get rid of most of the cars and switch them to trains, and that cities could remove cars from roads without anything to do with congestion pricing.
That is not clearly an entirely different proposal than "congestion pricing". "Getting rid of most of the cars and putting people on trains" is exactly what congestion pricing proponents argue that it does. But doing it that way can't increase throughput because there is at most at one to one relationship between people deterred from driving and people who take the train.
And in the context of a response to a comment criticizing congestion pricing, yours sounds like a comment defending it.
> Your nonsensical response was that replacing roads by trains wouldn’t actually increase throughput because people like car trips better.
My actual response was this:
All of which is still entirely true. If you want to increase throughput, don't make driving worse, make alternatives to driving better.
> Life in a place where all or nearly all trips can be made without needing to drive a car
> is very pleasant, especially for anyone who isn’t an able-bodied high-income adult.
Why? You seem to have an implicit hierarchy of transportation, and public transit is at the bottom of it.
No, many people prefer it -- everyone who uses it does. And everyone who drives prefers to drive. Because they both have the option to do the other thing.
But getting one person to stop driving can't get two people to use mass transit. Where is the other person supposed to come from? Why would someone who hadn't been driving to begin with change their behavior based on the option they were already not choosing becoming even worse?
If all you're doing is diverting people away from driving, you can't increase overall throughput because there is nowhere you're adding by more than you're subtracting somewhere else.
There are many parts of the US where this isn't the case, because cars are the only transportation available.
That said, I think you're wrong about these strongly held preferences. There a decent amount of people who just want to get to where they're going and don't necessarily care how.
There are few places that have no level of at least bus service. And bicycling and walking are generally considered mass transit, which you can do in every part of the US I'm aware of. The number of places accessible only by car is negligible.
But the mass transit in many places is terrible, to the point that a fifteen minute drive becomes a thirty minute walk followed by a twenty minute bus ride followed by a two hour walk. And the preference for cars comes in comparison to the alternative for the person making the choice, so people in those places obviously have a strong preference for cars.
You could get them to prefer the bus there by making the car trip take three hours or cost $100, but what good is that? Whose life does it improve?
> There a decent amount of people who just want to get to where they're going and don't necessarily care how.
That's the point. If you want more people to take the bus, don't make it worse to drive, make it better to take the bus. You get the result you want, but you do it by improving someone's life instead of making it worse.
It improves the lives of all those who are agnostic to their mode of transportation but want to get to their destination faster. The carrying capacity of a bus or a train is much higher than individual cars. It also saves cost on road maintenance because the amount of road strain / person decreases.
> That's the point. If you want more people to take the bus, don't make it worse to drive, make it better to take the bus.
In a perfect world, of course. We'd make separate bus roads, bicycle roads, and car roads, and then the road user would select their mode and their road and be done with it. In reality, budgets are limited. Prioritizing a car solution makes it worse for busses and bicyclists to use the same road. While a train can be a good non-disruptive alternative, it is extremely expensive to initially invest in.
I'm also not exactly sympathetic to allowing car drivers free access to the space they take up on the road when space is a limited quantity.
But they're not getting to their destination faster. They were getting there in fifteen minutes, now it takes three hours because they can no longer afford to drive but the bus doesn't actually go to their destination.
> We'd make separate bus roads, bicycle roads, and car roads, and then the road user would select their mode and their road and be done with it.
You don't need separate roads, you need mass transit that actually goes where people need to go.
Or better yet, to put more people where mass transit already is.
> Prioritizing a car solution makes it worse for busses and bicyclists to use the same road.
A bus can use the same uncongested road as a car with no problems, and traffic congestion is the same problem for both. There are a hundred different ways to address congestion other than "punish drivers" -- add new mass transit routes, build more housing on existing routes, lower or eliminate mass transit fares, switch from property tax to land value tax to encourage density, etc.
> Time shifting ones commute either has severe financial repercussions for the
> employer (lost productivity) or the employees (a decrease in effective wages).
As for widening roads, that's what's been the Dutch solution to traffic congestion for over 30 years now (congestion pricing is a major taboo with the largest government party), and traffic jams are worse than ever. Traffic seems to always grow to fill the available space and then some, unless you give it a reason not to.
That congestion pricing will reduce CO2 emissions is an added bonus, but not really the reason why it's considered necessary.
That, or companies implement flexible working hours, which allow time shifting without penalty.
The issue there is the two aren't that related. Congestion pricing doesn't get employers to implement flexible working hours, because most of the cost or the inconvenience of using alternatives is on the employee.
By contrast, if you passed a law requiring large employers in the city to implement flexible working hours, then you wouldn't need congestion pricing, because given the option people already prefer to commute when there is less traffic.
That is not evidence of a preference for sitting in traffic, it is evidence of a need to drive at that time for a reason other than work schedule. Which is only relevant for the subset of people with that constraint.
You don't actually need everyone to stop driving during rush hour -- that wouldn't even be efficient. You only need enough people to relieve the congestion.
> Considering congestion pricing has been proven to work, I really think that's the right way to encourage people either to drive at different times, or out of their cars and into public transit or bikes.
Congestion pricing works in the same way that hiring someone to throw bricks off an overpass into car windshields during rush hour would work. Effectiveness on a single metric is not the only criteria.
There are at least two major problems with congestion pricing. The first is that it can only really improve one thing -- traffic during peak times -- which only really matters to the people who are still driving at those times, who then have the benefit offset by the cost of the congestion charge. For lower income people the cost will generally outweigh the benefit. So the primary beneficiaries are people who continue to drive regardless and are so rich that the congestion charge isn't real money to them, at the cost of increased inconvenience for everyone who is deterred and increased cost for everyone who isn't (because their other alternatives are even worse) but still values that amount of money more highly than the reduced congestion.
The second problem is that it doesn't account for different levels of flexibility. Some people simply have no viable alternative. An independent steamfitter or HVAC tech can't carry all their equipment on the subway. Can't work at 4AM instead of 9AM because the customer isn't open then. The only choice is to eat the congestion charge -- thousands of dollars a year. There is no discount just because that person had no other option.
On top of that, the whole thing is a false dichotomy. The choices aren't "have congestion" or "have congestion pricing" -- there are many other, better ways to relieve congestion. Build more and higher density housing so that people can afford to live closer to where they work and more people live within walking distance of mass transit. Improve mass transit in general so that more people will actually choose it over driving without being forced to. Eliminate minimum parking requirements so that housing without it will exist (and cost less) and we reward the people who don't drive rather than punishing the people who have to. In general, use the carrot instead of the stick.
> Congestion pricing works in the same way that hiring someone to throw bricks off
> an overpass into car windshields during rush hour would work.
> The first is that it can only really improve one thing -- traffic during peak
> times -- which only really matters to the people who are still driving at those
> times, who then have the benefit offset by the cost of the congestion charge.
I don't disagree with your alternatives, but they have already been tried and haven't solved the problem. Maybe more money is needed to do it better? Congestion pricing can provide that. But it also helps to encourage people a bit more. A lot of people take the car because it's what they're used to, and they simply hope traffic won't be too bad. But with a little push, they'll be a bit more likely to try public transport. And with more people using it, there will also be more demand to improve it.
Living closer to work/working closer to home would of course be best, but again, it's not something that has worked so far. Some people don't have that luxury, and some people simply don't want to for other reasons.
Assuming the money goes to alternatives, which it typically doesn't, and moreover that there isn't a less regressive way to generate the same money, such as sales or income tax.
> People can still drive during peak times but reduce the cost and congestion by carpooling. People can take other forms of transport, and people can drive at a different time. The end result is that everybody still gets to where they need to be, but without getting stuck in traffic for an hour.
They can already do any of those things, if they were viable for them. You can save hundreds of dollars a year in fuel and vehicle maintenance by carpooling, and then everyone but the driver can read or text or work from the passenger's seat.
The people who are driving alone during rush hour are the people for which that isn't an efficient option -- they already had significant incentives to do it regardless, and it wasn't enough.
> I don't disagree with your alternatives, but they have already been tried and haven't solved the problem.
They haven't solved the problem because they haven't actually been tried. Most of them aren't even a matter of money, they're a matter of eliminating restrictive zoning rules and minimum parking requirements.
> A lot of people take the car because it's what they're used to, and they simply hope traffic won't be too bad. But with a little push, they'll be a bit more likely to try public transport.
Traffic during rush hour is commuters. Commuters know exactly how the traffic is because they're in it every day, and none of them want to be.
And if it was a matter of a little push then the congestion charges wouldn't have to be as high to change behavior. They have to be because sitting in traffic is already terrible and the people doing it are doing it for lack of better options. Provide the options and enough of them will stop doing it.
> Assuming the money goes to alternatives, which it typically doesn't,
> and moreover that there isn't a less regressive way to generate the same money,
> such as sales or income tax.
> They can already do any of those things, if they were viable for them. You can
> save hundreds of dollars a year in fuel and vehicle maintenance by carpooling,
> and then everyone but the driver can read or text or work from the passenger's
> They haven't solved the problem because they haven't actually been tried.
The US isn't the only country with this problem; many countries have it. Netherland has tried for years to solve it without congestion pricing by building more and wider roads, mass transit, zoning and whatever, and it's not working. Meanwhile, countries that have tried congestion pricing see it working. Congestion pricing is probably not a silver bullet that magically solves everything, but it might well be a vital ingredient to get people to actually use the alternatives.
The options are there, but too many people just aren't using them. Why they don't is a good question, but from the available evidence, it appears that congestion pricing provides the necessary push.
The point is that it's not free money. You don't get to spend resources without paying for them. The money comes from someone and that has a cost.
And where they come from is worse than where most other types of taxes come from, because it's an incredibly regressive form of taxation.
> Sales and income tax don't discourage traffic jams.
They also don't come disproportionately from working class people. And there are better ways to discourage traffic jams.
> But if you want, sure you could send the income from congestion pricing to something else and use other taxes to fund alternatives.
There is no such thing as directing specific tax money to a specific purpose. That's just an accounting dodge politicians use to lie to people. Money is fungible. The people paying don't pay a different amount and the people getting paid don't get paid a different amount.
What you can do is fund mass transit improvements from sales or income tax and not have congestion charges at all, which a significantly less regressive way to fund mass transit improvements.
> They can, but they don't.
Many of them do. More of them would if we had higher density housing and it was easier to find close neighbors who work in the same area, or just take the train to work.
> Yes, they have been tried. There's a good reason why experts say that congestion pricing seems to be the only thing that works. With every other approach, traffic grows to fill the available space until you get massive traffic jams.
China built a huge number of highways as a jobs program. They didn't suddenly fill up with traffic.
Los Angeles has worse traffic than New York City, even though there are more people in New York (both the cities themselves and the surrounding metro areas). Because New York has double the population density, and better mass transit. If population and density always caused traffic then how is New York better than Los Angeles?
And that's with New York shooting itself in the foot like this:
You're not allowed to build housing with no parking even when it's next to a subway station. So housing in the city costs more because of the expense, causing more people to live outside the city and have to commute in. Meanwhile the people who do live there have mandatory parking spaces, encouraging them to own cars even when they live next to the subway.
New York also has density limits that would prohibit many of the existing buildings from being constructed today. Meanwhile they still charge money for mass transit -- not a lot, but enough to deter people for no good reason, and then a huge chunk of the money collected gets wasted on the infrastructure needed to collect and enforce the fees.
This isn't what having tried looks like.
> The US isn't the only country with this problem; many countries have it. Netherland has tried for years to solve it without congestion pricing by building more and wider roads, mass transit, zoning and whatever, and it's not working.
There are a hundred ways to do it wrong. That doesn't mean it's impossible to do it right.
> Meanwhile, countries that have tried congestion pricing see it working.
It's only working if reducing congestion is the only criteria and it doesn't matter if you're heavily taxing the working class or forcing them into even longer commutes or artificially scarce overpriced housing when they can't afford the congestion charges.
Politicians like congestion charges because they generate money instead of costing it. But it comes from the wrong people, and all you're really doing is changing the relative cost between driving and alternatives. If you want to do that, why can't you tax the rich and then make mass transit free? Or do something to lower market rate housing costs in the city so more people can live there instead of having to commute in?
Widening roads usually does not alleviate congestion. For one of many links, see https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/2/21/the-futility-o...
Lesson learned - avoid doing any business down there if at all possible.
Have to wonder what the cost here is. Acquaintance does lots of business, and now directs it elsewhere to areas that are less hassle.
Nobody goes there anymore, the congestion pricing is too high.
(With apologies to Yogi Berra)
Extending congestion hours by lowering road throughput is counterproductive, so saying “it smoothed congestion” is applying the wrong metric.
At this point in time, we can measure door-to-door time of commuters, and also the number of trips per hour. Instead traffic engineers use metrics that seem to be designed by NIMBY’s that want to increase the cost of commuting into high property value areas.
The bus lanes you propose are likely to have the same problem.
Since you have the ability to improve the success criteria for transit projects, please consider using better metrics.
Those latter two categories are already as low occupancy as they can be. I suspect they’re representative of HOV users in other states.
Simply eliminating that HOV lane would probably improve the commute though. There’s data from a UC Berkeley study that more or less proves it.
I have kids, but I'm not eliminating any cars by carpooling with them.
The killer app for personal cars is families. And families have enormous positive long-term externalities for the human race for obvious reasons.
And your proposed system doesn’t make sense. It’d encourage people with no need for driving to get their driver’s license and punish others who couldn’t pass based on age and disability.
I’d think a better goal is to minimize the average time and environmental impact of commutes, while maximizing the number of people that can use the transit system to commute (including cars, bikes, busses, trains, etc).
So yes, people can acknowledge that many things about transportation are inequitable while still believing that congestion charges are inequitable.
* Wear and tear on roads
* Cost of policing roads
* Road deaths and accidents
* urban pollution
* co2 increase
The latter two don't apply to electric cars, and urban pollution doesn't apply to a gas tax on rural drivers. Otherwise they both seems to be things either a gas tax or congestion charge could make up for.
Plus, depending on where you're filling up, you may actually be using 100% renewable energy anyway, so you're not emitting CO2. There are states that are close to majority-renewable now, and will be in a few years.
There are good cars available on the lower end of the market. I wish there were options with less power available to be even cheaper.
I still think the program is valuable, but damn it hurts to see it be abused (especially since one of the guys had his little kid with him). A discount card or whatever that works on the spot is practically guaranteed to be abused as an easy money maker for people, and the net effect ends up being counter to the purpose od the program and many others.
When GOG.com optimized around the frauds they came up with a refund policy for their ethicals that's driven by preventing the frauds, now their real customers wanting refunds must work within a hostile framework designed to deny their refund because it assumes they're an adversary.
The scam was simple enough- he'd buy $100 of groceries for me, and I'd hand him $80 in cash. The one guy was practically taking food out of his kid's mouth (almost literally, in fact) to try to get that cash. Maybe it was a legit need, maybe it was for crack (fairly popular in that area of town).
Either way, if he found someone to do it, he and his family would continue living off of the cheapest foods and charity, while he'd have some unreported money.
Food stamps themselves are already a compromise; the reason we have them rather than handing out cold hard cash (like he wanted) was because we wanted some assurance that it would go towards a legitimate need, rather than fueling an addiction or luxury goods.
Short of getting family members to turn fraudsters in or having grocery store employees act as police informants, I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to improve the system at all, without even considering the burden of new policies on good actors.
If something is to be done to help the addicts, the ill, the obese etc so they spend food stamp funding more effectively it should address their addictions and illnesses and problems. Those are health and education and social services issues.
Address that and you could actually start asking why there needs to be restrictions at all on what people can buy with food stamps... they're supposed to be help people below poverty live at normal standards, which includes spending money irresponsibly or at their own discretion!
People on that program can't buy necessities like toilet paper, laundry detergent, soap, diapers, tampons, deodorant, lip balm, I think that is a bigger problem than 0.9% fund misuse especially when such conditions might contribute to the 'misuse'.
Any corruption or waste in government weakens people overall faith in government.
The takeaway is that food stamp fraud ballooned during
the four years through 2016 but that it still represents
a tiny percentage of the program.
When compared with those total figures, the fraud
identified in 2016 amounted to a mere 0.9% of the
total. That was up from 0.5% in 2012.
I guess it depends on which end of the political spectrum you are, but this sounds absolutely obscene to me.
I mean, you certainly could argue that this is unfair, but at that point you’re basically arguing for a different concept of money and commerce, which is a rather bigger subject than the unfairness of tolls.
I agree with you that the price of government-owned parking is generally too low, and that it should be increased to a level to which available spaces nearby are reliably guaranteed.
The article isn't arguing that parking prices should depend on the price of the car being parked, just that having the same parking price for everybody is not any less inequitable than congestion pricing.
Sweden (I believe it is) in fact does this.
Regardless, yes as the OP says if you think it's fair to charge a flat fine, then surely it's fair to charge a flat fee. The point is relative and thus holds whether you define fine equitability in terms of amount paid or difficulty in making the payment.
A car uses a parking spot. The spot is no longer available for someone else- regardless of your income. Incomes is orthogonal to the problem.
Flat taxes are the fairest taxes.
Take trash taxes for example: you produce 100 lbs of trash, you pay for 100 lbs of trash because disposing of 100 lbs of trash in a landfill or a recycling facility won't be affected by the income of the person having produced said trash.
Want to pay less taxes? Produce less trash.
I think the parking spot item is more like a meal at a fine restaurant - there is no incentive or disincentive from a social standpoint that should justify variable pricing on income. But to the extend there is, say via congestion, pollution, etc, it is reasonable to vary pricing in order to equally apply the disincentive.
No, it's not reasonable. The goal is not to discourage use, but to price in the negative externality.
> For your example of trash collection, by having a fixed fee the state creates a greater incentive among the poor to reduce their trash production,
And that's good, even if we suppose your argument is right. Bear with me: what's the percentage of the population in your country that you would call "rich"? Let's say 20%.
Do you think that 20% of the population can create more bags of trash than 80% of the population? I don't think so.
In the parking example, do you think 20% of the population can park more cars than 80% of the population? I don't think so either.
Someone rich may have more than one car, but I strongly doubt they are able to drive 2 cars at once.
But we are talking about parking spaces, and production of trash within a country.
I live in a wealthy household, our discarded amazon packaging, food and meal delivery garbage is easily 4x the garbage produced by a penny pinching household. And so far my housemates and I haven't reduced our consumption because the garbage collection fees do not outweigh the convenience of online shopping.
If you're poor, a tax - no matter how small - affects things like food expenditure.
If you're income rich, the difference tax makes affects things like what kind of car you buy or what quality of hotel you stay at when you're on vacation.
These are not like for like tradeoffs, they're qualitatively different.
Another theory is hedonic adaptation- you adapt to whatever and regress to a baseline.
Finally, there seems to be proof that some people do not spent their money on what will make them happier, the typical example being buying an object instead of an experience.
But I don't think your reasoning hold either.
If you have more money, it's easier to take less parking space, and produce less trash.
I can certainly attest that it's easier for me now: I can afford a private parking lot and taxis, I can buy food in expensive organic shops that have less packaging, I can pay people to do things for me, that would result in more work, but less waste.
Basically, when you have money, you can optimize for way more things than when you are constrained financially.
1. You pay tax per weight of the vehicle, and that's a (mostly?) linear relationship. Whereas a 10 ton vehicle causes much more than 10x the wear & tear to roadways than a 1 ton vehicle.
2. Even if it were adjusted for the wear it shouldn't be a fixed fee, but based on actual usage. Paying it for a combination of the weight and mileage/yr would still not reflect reality, but would be closer.
3. There's no tax for vehicle size, just weight (the two don't always closely follow each other), which produces an externality on small Dutch roadways.
At the same time, a project people abandoned a few times (mostly because or scare tactics) is in the works to see if we can lower or abandon some of the taxes in favour of usage-based taxes measured by vehicle kilometers on-road. So if you drive more, you pay more.
At the same time, I don't think it makes sense to make all tax super dependant on what you drive, where you drive it, and what money you make. We already have some specific systems in place to deal with the discrepancy between high income and low income (and the gradient in the middle), so instead of making the tax system more complex by adding yet more variables to existing rules, a rule with a highly specific target is simpler and reaches more of the people it applies to.
Basically, if you are poor, or simply don't make enough money to save or invest, a lot of the taxes no longer apply. At the same time, if your income is so low you are getting towards the edge of not surviving (depending on where you are I guess) you get money for rent and healthcare. And on top of that: if you don't have a lot of money, it makes no sense to own a car anyway.
I don't think a true per-use system that only relies on what the current usage of anything is will work, simply because we cannot predict what we will need or use in the future and it disables all paths to investments or building infrastructure because it is a lifeline to certain areas. After all, it's not a for-profit corporate system we're talking about, it's a country or a government. While sensible decisions are of course needed, and adjustments to how some things are paid for can be very sensible, making a very tight integration between what is available and what it currently used is a very bad idea for humans.
Taxes and tolls should be based on what/where/when you drive. Someone driving in circles in downtown Amsterdam in the middle of the day is causing a lot more externalities than someone doing the same thing in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.
Nothing about saying fees shouldn't be externalized is an argument that there shouldn't be investment in infrastructure. Although I think you'll find that once car infrastructure would have to pay real property tax and pay for its externalities (including pollution etc.) we'd need less road infrastructure. You'd get more density, more things shipped by train instead of trucks etc.
It's legal to use untaxed (undyed) fuel for off-road uses, but the quantities are so low that it's not worth the distribution system for it. So usually it's only used by large consumers (i.e. farmers and other consumers with large off-road fuel usage)
Someone who owns a Tesla also isn't paying their road tax.
That will change next year when California will start charging a $100 EV fee for car registrations. It's still less than the $176 a 10,000 mile/year 30mpg driver will pay in gas tax, but it's not "nothing". Though since EV's are typically more expensive than the equivalent conventional car, they'll pay a higher VLF fee. So for example, $10,000 in extra value means $65/year more VLF tax so that EV will be paying around $165/year.
I'd rather see a milage + weight based tax.
> Fuel taxes are just another version of taxing the wrong thing.
Ultimately, though, it's complicated to tax everybody exactly for the societal costs they're causing. Taxing just the weight of the car doesn't take usage into account. Taxing fuel doesn't sufficiently take weight into account. To tax people correctly for road use you'd have to keep detailed track of how much they use their car, and that may get rather invasive into people's privacy.
That said, it's pretty clear that cars cause more externalities than they're being taxed for.
how to track that in a privacy friendly way?
So you’re criticizing them for something they, as you admit, do not actually say. How is it their fault if the undisputed facts they state make you think of something that you consider wrong?
Libertarian here, healthcare.gov is this. Its great.
well, its about as great as heavily bribed government sectors can be. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s
Once the majority of people are buying their own health insurance, the market for doing so will improve, and we could see private alternatives to healthcare.gov, as well as more brokers willing to take that on.
If I could change one thing about history, it would be wage and price controls during WW2 that got us into the situation of employers offering health insurance, and if I could change anything now, it would be eliminating that. I ran the math, and _most_ of our employees would've been better off buying from the market (e.g. through the subsidies they don't qualify for because our company offers insurance). I presented this to my boss, and he rejected it on the grounds that people expect the company to provide it.
We need to kill that culture before we can seriously consider changing health insurance/care again.
Public Schools are equitable, because every child can attend public school, there are no barriers to attendance. Public Water utility systems are equitable, because every resident gets an identical cheapest possible rate for drinking water, so that the barrier to access to water is as low as possible. Public Libraries are equitable, because every resident gets identical access to the contents of the library, as cheap (or usually free) a price as possible.
Urbanists attack the roads from the opposite angle. They are trying to invent as many barriers as possible to their use. (i.e., additional taxes, additional congestion charges, etc). Congestion prices can never be equitable, because the idea itself is intentionally inequal -- it's an attempt to punish people for using a public good (and more accurately, an attempt to maximally-punish each person as equally as possible).
This is the exact opposite of true equability, which is all about delivering as much public good as possible, as cheaply as possible.
My experience of seeing/evaluating/considering public schools in rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods suggests that public schooling in the US is far from equitable.
In car transponders of course would make the privacy problem worse.
The idea being to give everyone a tax credit equivalent to what they are probably going to spend on usage fees. The incentive structure remains, as they get to keep the money if you aren't contributing to the negative externality, and on average nobody is any worse off than before.
wikipedia supports my usage:
"A Pigovian tax (also spelled Pigouvian tax) is a tax on any market activity that generates negative externalities (costs not included in the market price). The tax is intended to correct an undesirable or inefficient market outcome, and does so by being set equal to the social cost of the negative externalities. In the presence of negative externalities, the social cost of a market activity is not covered by the private cost of the activity. In such a case, the market outcome is not efficient and may lead to over-consumption of the product. Often-cited examples of such externalities are environmental pollution, and increased public healthcare costs associated with tobacco and sugary drink consumption."
Should engineers and programmers pay more money for the same laptop as an art student?
I'm unsure if this pricing should only exist in the public sector or should extend to private services. Looking to hear your rationale.
I'm one of those, treat everyone equal, types. Would like to hear your reason.
Helpful graphic: http://i2.wp.com/interactioninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads...
No, of course not, if it's the same laptop.
But suppose there is a laptop tax of $300. If the engineer and art student buy the same $3000 laptop, that's 10%. But let's be realistic here: art students will probably have a $1000 or even $500 laptop. Suddenly their tax rate is 30% or 60%, compared to the engineer's 10%.
Excises and levies are not flat taxes. They are regressive in structure. Whether you agree with progressive taxation is one matter, but I feel as though everyone agrees that taxation should at least be linear to the thing being taxed.
Here's a thought experiment: Imagine that you are born as any random person in a society. You could be born as a white male of exceptional intelligence with 1% rich parents, or you could be born as a girl of a minority race to junkie parents and suffer from mental health issues your entire life. Now, without knowing what kind of person you're born as, design a just society in terms of, say, the level of income redistribution, tax-provided health care, or whatnot.
Getting back to your original question of whether somebody should pay more for a laptop than somebody else; well, IF you accept (some amount of) income redistribution, it's more of a technical question how to implement it. I imagine it'd be easier to implement with income redistribution, social spending on low-income citizens or whatnot rather than having wealth- or income-dependent prices on everything.
You could just as well be born a farm animal, or a blade of grass.
Absurd? Perhaps. It's no more absurd to me than attempting to imagine being born as a Frenchman.
The line between humans and other species doesn't seem that arbitrary.
Bingo! I didn't mention it in my original comment, partially because I was interested if anyone would spot it.
(And partially because it wasn't per se relevant to the argument itself)
The idea we all pay the exact same for the same product/service is... not accurate.
This seems like a legacy problem that will soon go away. Gas taxes were done because they were a good proxy for both miles driven, when most cars got roughly the same milage. But now you have cars that get a few miles to the gallon while another car that might be heavier is getting 35mpg. And of course electric cars.
I suspect gas taxes will switch to milage taxes in the next few years as more and more electric cars are adopted. In California they've already started charging electric cars an extra fee on the annual registration to make up for the lack of gas taxes.
The AFV vanity plate entitles you to drive for free in all Toll lanes.
All zero emissions vehicles are also allowed in HOV lanes regardless of occupancy since the HOV lanes were introduced to curb emissions in Metro Atlanta.
Here's a crazy idea: instead of pricing congestion, let's introduce a point system with quotas tied to license plates and surge point deduction.
Puts a hard limit on the number of cars that enter the zone and applies both to the rich and poor equally.
Unless of course some of the rich decide to buy additional cars just so they can drive more - although I don't think many would be willing to go to such lenghts.
During pollution spikes in Paris, the city occasionally alternates each day between forbidding odd or even ending car plates from circulating downtown. The rich do precisely what you say: buy an extra car and make sure the license plates are so they can drive any day regardless of restrictions.
For example I know of people close to my age (late 30s) and from my social circles (middle-class people) who pride themselves for almost never using the metro, even though in the city where I’m living (Eastern Europe) the metro does a pretty good job at transporting most of the city’s population. As such, if a system that would forbid car circulation based on their license plates were to be introduced I’m pretty much sure that those same people would buy a second car especially in order to circumvent the new rules, and I’m also pretty much sure that that second car would be almost as “good” as their first car. Doing otherwise would be seen as a diminishing of those people’s social standing.
That's what I'm getting at. Say they already drive the best car they can(or even cannot at times) afford. Do they switch to two 3 years older cars(assuming that's how long it takes for a car to lose half of its value)?
Intuitively I do not think anyone is buying an old clunker as a supplemental vehicle to dodge such policies. The regulations during pollution spike control efforts could ban their use anyway, so it would need to be a recent car. And if cheap is a decision factor, you're probably using a combination of public transportation and the occasional cab anyway. (Public transportation is good enough in most major European cities that you can live without a car.)
Good idea. Then make these points tradable, and you'll reach the same optimality as a congestion tax, but retain a system that doesn't exclude low-income folks.
This workaround would be made moot by adding a rule saying you can use at most the square root (or any other sublinear function) of number of your cars.
Are they suggesting progressive gas tax? The price of gas you pay at the pump would depend on your salary?
Their thesis is that congestion pricing shouldn't be dismissed on grounds X, not that all these other things should be dismissed on grounds X. It's pointing out the inconsistency of supporting a bunch of inequitable policies while rejecting another simply because "it's inequitable".