Matthew Bradley and Jeff Kenworthy help us to set out on our search for economic instruments that can be effective in reducing traffic congestion while leveling the playing field between cars and other transport in ways that are both efficient and equitable. They tell us that: “A major part of the urban transport problem today is a failure from the very beginning to acknowledge that congestion is fundamentally inequitable and unfair, impractical to construct away, and therefore must be properly charged for and controlled to eliminate the transport system dysfunction which is systemic in cities today.” Recommended reading for anyone with a serious interest in how to get the most out of economic instruments in our troubled, seriously underperforming sector.
This article by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has just appeared in the December 2013 issue of the United Nation’s “Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific.” It reinforces many of the strategies and principles set out in the New Mobility Agenda 2014/15 program, and provides useful reading for anybody concerned with transportation, mobility and public space improvements in Penang and George Town. A summary introduction to the full paper follows extracting a final section on Optimal Congestion Solutions and the Conclusions. The full paper is recommended and freely available at http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf.
William Spenser Vickerey, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, is considered the father of Congestion Pricing. He first proposed it in 1952, for the New York City subway system, recommending that fares be increased in peak times and in high-traffic sections and be lowered in others. Elected officials considered it risky at the time, and the technology was not ready. Later, he made a similar proposal for road pricing.
This article was written in 1992 by Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, to summarize some of the defining principles set out in Vickerey’s extensive path-breaking early extensive pathbreaking contributions which in many ways defined the field. This essay can be found in its original form in the website of the Institute at http://www.vtpi.org/vickrey.htm.
This double blog reposting on this important topic is worthy of our readers’ attention on several grounds. Here at World Streets we are, after all, in a very real way in the transportation service innovations business, that being a key underpinning of the transition and the “politics of transport in cities”. We recommend you consult it in two passes: the first being to read below the full text of Dave King’s concise commentary that appeared yesterday, 26 June, in “Getting from here to there”. And from there you may wish to move on to the full piece of Steve Blank in the Berkeley blog – click here.
This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The approach and methodology are interesting. And in it you will find a certain number of points which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.
In 2013 we shall be giving quite a lot of attention to congestion pricing or charging by its many names and variants, all of which sharing the goal of finding ways to make drivers pay for entry and use of a scarce resource, road space in city centers . This fascinating article by Themis Chronopoulos which is introduced here takes quite an original point of view in his thorough analysis of three of the most recent and widely followed projects (or in the case of New York City, would-be project). (Note: A quick search of Google this morning called up some 4,370,000 references under the single term of congestion pricing. Something must be going on.) Continue reading
No Dorothy, it would be nice but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not even in Kansas. Our cities need money to operate and maintain all the many parts of their hopefully high quality “public transport” systems”, but they also need schools, sanitation, health facilities, elderly care, parks and public spaces, security, jobs to give everyone a chance for a full life in a peaceful community . . . and the long list goes on. Transport, which can finance itself largely, if you have the brains to get it right, should not be poaching from these no-less critical basic needs of the community. More, we need our public transport systems (21st century definitions) to be both freely and extensively used (what is sadder than an empty bus!) — and at the same time build in provisions so that the system is fully equitable as well as efficient. Continue reading
Here is a “free transport project” that is working remarkably well: In the Spring of 2005 the community of Greater Lyon in cooperation with their supplier JCDecaux launched the world’s first mega Public Bike System, Vélo’v. The project put some 3000 bikes into service, available in about 300 stations spread for the most part over the City of Lyon. All this is successful, amply detailed in many places and continues to this day to yield yeoman service for some 60,000 registered users (including the author). To gain access to the system, in addition to one day or one week tickets, the user pays an annual fee of € 25, and when using a bike a caution is debited from the users credit card until it is returned to a parking slot. From a user perspective it is a very successful system and use experience.
* But where is the “free public transport” element?
This list is taken from the 2010 posting provided by the Free public transportation Debate at http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_Free_public_transportation. It needs to be updated but still is a useful point of reference, along with the latest Wikipedia entry at Free Public Transport. Please send us your updates either as Comments here, or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Continue reading
Brief: L.A. County toll lanes get smooth start, despite grumbling
As officials unveiled the first toll lanes on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway this weekend, some drivers said they had questions about how the new fare program worked. The express lanes were created using existing carpool lanes. As a result, drivers now can pay to leave mixed-flow traffic and enter the express lanes, saving what officials said could be two to three minutes a mile. The tolls vary from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, depending on congestion and demand. Officials aim to keep travel speeds in the express lanes at least 45 miles per hour. They estimate the average toll will be between $4 and $7 a trip, though it could be as much as $15.40. * Click here for full text
Paris: Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.
This ambitious effort on the part of Paris’s mayor and his team is well worth following, even if for some it is may be a bit inconvenient for those not able to easily read in French. The original article appears here. And here in the event is the Google translation. (You may note that this article appears in a journal loved and run by the French Right, the mayor’s fierce opponents, so caveat lector.)
This report by Professor John Whitelegg scrutinizes the possibilities for developing the existing London congestion charge as a response to concerns about future levels of congestion, air pollution and health and economic efficiency. These concerns are important policy considerations at any time but against a background of forecast increases in population and economic activity in the Greater London area they become more important still. World Streets is more than pleased to share this original work with our readers, not less because we take a strong stance against the introduction of technology-based road pricing in cities of the Global South, where it is our view here are more effective ways of achieving the goals of traffic reduction and much-needed new sources of income for public and non-motorised transport. Let’s see what John has to say in this timely report from a London perspective. Continue reading
Parisar is a civil society organization in Pune India working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development. Its work focuses mainly on sustainable urban transport, since it recognizes that unsustainable transport policies and systems are the foremost threat to urban environment and quality of life. This article, kindly shared with us by their blog team at http://www.parisar.org/, reports on an activity the likes of which we would like to see in every city in the world — a continuing citizen audit of the city’s budget, and in particular those aspects that relate to transportation investments and expenditures. Continue reading
(While Lee Schipper is recovering, here is another example of his always-on prescience in the poorly lit streets of this gasping planet.) If matters of climate, sustainable transportation and careful use of scarce resources are close to your heart, and you happen to be European, you may have some reserves about your country’s ecologically billed, and energetically buttressed “Cash for Clunkers” (in more polite Euro language of course) program. Let a couple of Americans energy policy experts help you feel a bit less embarrassed. You are not alone. Continue reading
To negotiate the move from old to new mobility, we have to understand as well the importance of moving from old to new economics. Back in 1997 James Robertson, respected British economist, monetary reformer and policy counsel to government, took a hard look at “The New Economics of Sustainable Development” in a report prepared for the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission. Today, half a generation later, this exceptionally insightful piece still brings up points to which we should be giving attention. It is unfortunate that the clock has stood still for this important part of the sustainability dialogue. No wonder we are making so very little progress in the right direction. Let’s have a close look at what James has to propose and mull it all over from a 2011 perspective.
Down with Free Auto Parking! Up with Free Market Parking!
- by Michael Andersen
THERE’S NOTHING like watching the degenerates of NW 23rd to make you wonder when liberal America’s war on families is going to end.
What frightens me most about this neighborhood isn’t the decadence. It’s the entitlement. These people now insist that the rest of us open our wallets to extend them special benefits at public expense.
I’m speaking, of course, of free automobile parking. Continue reading
This white paper by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, just issued the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, looks at the potential for Pay as you Drive (PAYD) insurance both in general and in the specific case of British Columbia. With Pay as you Drive – i.e., “context sensitive insurance” – what you pay for this big-ticket item is conditional on not only distance travelled but also time and place. The concept has been around for decades but has started to gain traction in the last half dozen years. Let’s have a look. Continue reading
While one face of the government sulks and spoils, the other dares to act. The budget making exercise this year in India is an evidence of this. There is progressive grassroots decision to discourage polluting diesel cars and encourage public transport and bicycles in India’s capital city of Delhi, which is in sharp contrast to the reactionary non-visionary action at the national level. Anumita Roychowdhury reports from Delhi. Continue reading
If your city is to go the bike route, and we can think of no good reason why it should not, you have to figure out the parking angle. Which, once you get into it, proves to be not nearly as easy as you might at first have thought. Here is a thoughtful piece on the on-street parking piece of the city bike puzzle which appears in Grist this morning under the byline of the ever-inventive Elly Blue. We propose you check it out with that second cup of coffee. Continue reading
This is a personal call to those of you who have over the years participated in the rather numerous programs and working groups we have since 1988 carefully crafted and maintained in support of worldwide peer collaboration and exchange in our tough but important field: under the New Mobility Agenda, World Streets or one of its sister publications (see below), or who have of late plugged in to our pages on Facebook or Twitter. I feel pretty quite comfortable in doing this since you know what we are trying to do, and who better for me to turn to at a time of need. (And oh yes, for those who may not recall, that citation above was by Nobel Prize winner Professor Ernest Rutherford, on taking over the quite broke Cavendish Laboratory in 1919, in the wake of the First World War.) Continue reading
Gladwyn d’Souza comments from California an article that has just appeared in the New York Times on this subject. “The United States Environmental Protections Agency, EPA, should really be discussing the allocation of risk. A large curb radius for example transfers risk from the speeding driver to the pedestrian. The issue is that speed and convenience embody an energy bill whose consequences are not repatriated on the basis of least harm to public safety. While the consequences are local, an injury on your street corner, the impact under NAFTA, etc., of comparative or qualitative instead of preventive risk assessment is habitat destructive. . . . ” Continue reading
We have no money gentlemen, so we shall have to think.
- Ernest Rutherford, on taking over the Caversham Laboratory in 1919
On 2 December the managing editor of World Streets, Eric Britton, was invited by the organizers of the National Autumn Conference of ACT TravelWise to present the keynote address, following an opening presentation by Norman Baker, MP and Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport of the just-elected UK coalition government. The theme of the conference was “The Right to Travel – Getting more for less” — and Britton was asked to bring in some international perspectives and possibly some less familiar ideas for the largely British audience after the Minister’s presentation. Continue reading
Let me sketch out an easy to understand (or reject) climate/transport foundation strategy that presents some stark contrasts with the ideas and approaches that are getting the bulk of attention when it comes to targeting, policy and investment in the sector — and which in a first instance is quite likely to earn me more enemies than friends (that goes with the territory). At least until such time that these basic underlying ideas are expressed in a manner which is sufficiently clear and convincing that we can with confidence put them to work to turn the tide. So here you have my first brief statement of the issues, the basic strategic frame and the key pressure points to which I invite your critical reactions and comments. In a second piece in this series, to follow shortly, I intend to have a look at the package(s) of measures, policies, tools, modes, etc. which can be sorted out, combined and refined to do something about it. Or maybe not.
- Eric Britton, Editor Continue reading
Politicians are reluctant to confront the economic and environmental costs of transport. The task: to reduce the demand for mobility. I probably don’t write about transport as much as I ought to, and that was brought home to me at an event on The Future of Transport in Leuven in Belgium, at which I was also a speaker. There’s a case for regarding transport as a climate emergency, given that it accounts for about a quarter of Europe’s carbon emissions, and that in the last decade (unlike pretty much every other sector) emissions from transport have continued to grow sharply. And before I continue, even if you’re a climate sceptic, this represents a significant policy issue: the transport sector (at least, the non-human powered transport sector) is 97% dependent on fossil fuels. As these become scarcer, more expensive, and more prone to interruption, we will have an incipient social and economic problem which is serious enough to prod policy makers. … Read More
Part I: Getting it wrong from the start.
One of the great, long-proven truths of policy and practice in the transport field is the we all to often start out by jumping right into the middle of the problem set – instead of taking the time to sit back and figure out what really is going on. This genuinely disturbing tendency to premature postulation more often than not leads us to weak answers to important problems. Worse yet, this brain-light process all too often brings us to do just about the opposite of what the full problem set actually calls for. Continue reading