The “Old Gray Lady” and Congestion Pricing and Green Technology


The “Old Gray Lady” and Congestion Pricing and Green Technology

Thomas Friedman, a columnist with the NY Times, has sallied forth into the crowded territory of those in favor of congestion pricing. He is doing it because it’s "Green," and "Technology Based." If you want to pay for it, you can read his article in the Times.

Generally he says that the concept is good because high tech companies like IBM are going to make millions on the technology required to track folks in and out of congestion areas.  They now do it in Stockholm, and before long, all the cities in the world with use congestion pricing and many companies like IBM will provide the technology to ensure that you pay to drive to downtown Duluth, or Chicago, or LA, or Houston.

And of course, since fewer people are diving, all will be right with the world.


As I have said earlier, this is just another scheme to collect a tax on folks who work, live, or shop in cities. They already collect a sales tax, property tax, inventory tax, tax on parking, and Lord knows how many other taxes, why not one more?

Sure, they put in congestion charges in London and Stockholm and traffic went down 20%. But did congestion go down, too?  They are screaming in London about increased congestion in certain areas, because cars are trying to stay out of the congestion pricing areas, but are trying to get close. A local newspaper checked the average speed of traffic in certain areas (within the congestion zone) like the famous strand and found that it was slower now than a year ago.  Remember those "laws of unintended consequences."  London is expanding the congestion pricing areas, and guess what? The underground is jammed, buses are overloaded. And neighborhoods surrounding the downtown core of the capital are being overwhelmed by cars. Well Duh!!!

It seems that people still have to get to work, somehow. They have to drive part way and then take public transportation. Of course there has to be public transportation. Public transportation that gets to where your office happens to be. Would this work in LA? How bout Houston? Phoenix? San Diego? Dallas? Miami? Oh, well. that’s OK — we are going to do it because, according to Friedman, its "Green" and "good for good old American Technology" cuz after all IBM developed the software and hardware to track you and charge you. Other companies will spring up making more gizmos to track you in and out of cities. That will be good old high tech non smokestack technology, and voila global warming is dead and original sin has been vanquished.

Also, consider this:  How many people do you think will not be driving in
to Manhattan if you charge em $8 for the trip. They are already paying
$50 to park, $75 for lunch, $350 for a hotel room,  and are getting
paid high salaries to work in Wall Street and Madison Avenue. What’s
another $160 a month?

Oh. but what about the folks who don’t make that kind of money. I say they don’t drive now.

Has there ever been a solution, put forth by government, that has worked? Name one. How bout the Post Office, or DMV, or IRS, or welfare, or even public education? Every one has its problems and they are getting worse and worse.  But then, maybe this congestion pricing scheme will work.

Why not trying this little solution:  Let the free market set the prices for parking downtown. That includes the thousands of on street spaces that charge a tenth of what off street parking costs. If New York City set the prices of on street spaces at say $5 or $7 an hour, my guess is that people would quickly decide to park off street if they were staying 8 hours (and at $45 a day save $11 bucks) and stop the congestion they are causing by driving round and round the block to find a cheaper space. Those that wish could pay the $7 and hour and park on the street. There would always be a few spaces available for them because of the rate set. If $7 wasn’t enough, raise it until there were a few spaces left all the time.

Congestion would go down, (That’s the goal, right?) income into the city coffers would go up (that’s the REAL goal of the bureaucrats downtown), people would have a place to park who wanted it, and those that didn’t want to pay the higher parking prices, could take the bus (that’s the goal, isn’t it?)

No new bureaucracy, no multi million dollar purchase of high tech gear, no new set of law breakers and enforcement folks to run them down.

Just change a few signs, and you are off into the sunset.  And the companies that sell the already existing green technology (read that Pay and Display/space, pay by cell phone, pay by in car meter, pay by GPS, pay by well…) will thrive and prosper.

I’m sure that’s much too simple for the "green/technology" based Mr. Friedman. There is no political backhanders going on in the state capitol, no money coming in from Washington, no intrigue, and certainly no feeling of having done something GREAT for the environment.

Nope — just a quick, easy, simple solution that actually has the same end result without all the hassle in between and will work NOW.

However, Mayor Bloomberg, and Arnie, and the Governor of Florida have attached their wagons to the green movement and know that this is a political move that’s a winner. I wonder if the fact that there is half a billion in Federal congestion pricing pilot grant funding hanging out there has been the slightest motivation for these politicians who seem so happy to jam this concept down the throats of the people who live, work, and make their livings in our central cities.

Oh, I almost forgot. Why not take the half a billion and use it for planning for nuclear power. The real culprit for C02 emissions is coal fired power plants. If we could take that pollution out of the air, world wide, the problem, I think, would go away, assuming we could lace all the cow’s feed with Beano.

Just my opinion, and since I don’t write for the august New York Times I’m certain few give a damn.


Word is that the New York State Assembly has turned down the measure and that Mayor Bloomberg has acknowledged that Congestion charges will not be a fact in New York City. I was rather surprised with his lack of graciousness, but then, he is a very rich politician, after all



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