Congestion Pricing: N.Y. Embraced It. Will Other Clogged Cities Follow? – The New York Times

Congestion pricing’s moment follows decades of failed efforts to unclog roads around the country. Historically, cities responded to congestion by building more roads or widening existing ones — only to find that those, too, became jammed, said Matthew Turner, an economics professor at Brown University.

As a result, America’s roads are carrying more traffic than ever. The number of people driving to work climbed to about 130 million in 2017, up from 121 million in 2012, according to an analysis of census data by Social Explorer, a research company. Of those, more than 116 million drove alone, and only 14 million car-pooled. Just 8 million workers took public transportation.

The increasing traffic has been accompanied by concerns over health, safety and environmental implications. The number of pedestrians killed in traffic in the United States is approaching a three-decade high.

Traffic woes have emerged as the underside of successful cities: The boom leads to an influx of new residents, businesses and construction. More than two dozen major American cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, have more congestion now than a decade ago, according to an annual global traffic scorecard by INRIX.

The most recent scorecard found that congestion left American drivers sitting in traffic an average of 97 hours last year, up from 82 hours in 2015. That, in turn, cost the economy roughly $87 billion in lost productivity last year, up from $74 billion in 2015, according to INRIX.

“It only takes one car that doesn’t get through an intersection to block two lanes of traffic,” said Trevor Reed, an INRIX transportation analyst.

In Seattle, Amazon’s relentless rise has helped to turn the city into a major tech hub. Now, major infrastructure and development projects are expected to lead to even more gridlock.


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