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The Value of Time

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"The Value of Time"


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Things like congestion pricing are a hard sell politically, in large part because the idea is so unfamiliar that people get naturally skeptical it will actually benefit them, but the fact of the matter is that everyone hates being stuck in traffic. And as Elana Schor points out, IBM’s Commuter Pain Index survey indicates that people are willing to put their money where their mouth is:


Schor says this means we should reframe the conversation around gas taxes, “When a greater contribution to transportation is pitched as a way to shorten commutes and give workers more free time, the prospect becomes more desirable.”

Very possibly. What’s more this suggests that congestion pricing could pretty substantially improve quality of life in a lot of metropolitan areas. If you had a city in which a $10 congestion charge could shave 15 minutes off commutes, the vast majority of people would consider themselves better off. A minority of people wouldn’t consider that a good deal (and they’d presumably be heavily represented among the group of people whose unwillingness to drive into the congestion zone during peak times would produce the reduction in congestion) but a large number of them ought to be able to appreciate the reduced taxes or higher levels of public services that the charge could finance.

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