Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Congestion tax

Congestion taxing is a system where cars are charged a fee around 5-8 dollars for operating a vehicle in a certain area during rush hour. Europe was the first country to develop this system, and it became extremely effective. For instance, in London just over a million people enter the city a day. As soon as London enforced this system, their traffic congestion decreased by 20%. The benefit of the congestion charge is that it allows cities to generate revenue in order to build alternative transportation systems. The program's revenue was used to improve public transit services, which included more buses and renovation to the subway system. Additionally, as the charge exempts vehicles using alternative fuels, it encourages users to purchase environmentally clean automobiles. The tax reduced traffic, encouraged people to purchase more efficient cars, and most importantly improved air quality. London experienced nearly a 30% decrease in greenhouse gas emission as a result of the congestion charge. Keep in mind the public health benefits that follow as well. For instance, encouraging citizens to either walk or bike if within acceptable distances can compound health benefits.

I am a firm supporter of this system due to the positive outcomes European countries have witnessed. Congestion charging can ultimately lead to improved public transportation in the U.S, meanwhile, reducing air pollution by charging people for the environmental damages. Economically this charge will also create additional jobs in the transportation sector. Additionally, commercial drivers benefit from improved work environment due to a substantial decrease in traffic.  Greenhouse gas emission will drop by an estimated 15-30% as a result of this charging strategy. I believe both businesses and citizens benefit from this charge in terms of cleaner air, and roads that are much less congested. Whether or not citizens oppose this system, I believe the benefits of the congestion charge outweigh the costs.
--Patrick Keshishian

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