The Possibilities of Slugging

I really liked Emily Badger’s article on the practice of “slugging” in DC’s Virginia suburbs. This is a kind of loosely structured car pooling, where people give strangers rides in order to gain access to HOV lanes.

It’s worth your time just as a piece of journalism, but also because I think slugging gestures in the direction of the point that congestion pricing would work well even in places that don’t have an extensive mass transit infrastructure. When the incentive exists to share rides—which is what happens with a per vehicle congestion charge—a relatively simple and low cost infrastructure can do a lot to facilitate it. Now obviously I’m a fan of mass transit and dense urban development, but I think it’s an important point anyway because people sometimes think there’s much more of a chicken and egg problem here than really exists. What’s more, it’s important to see that congestion pricing can easily be a revenue-positive measure that can be used to reduce sales taxes (if you’re concerned about the distributive implications) or to cut marginal income tax rates on rich people (if you’re a Republican).