Friday, June 29, 2007

Congestion Pricing Works in Minnesota

There are several previous CD posts on congestion pricing for traffice: here, here and here, based on the principles that: a) anytime you have congestion it's because of a failure to apply market pricing, and b) market pricing helps to elminate or reduce congestion.

The WSJ has an article about congestion pricing on I-394 in Minneapolis that introduced HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes in 2005, where tolls range from 25 cents to $8, varying with the amount of congestion in order to keep traffic moving along at close to 55 miles an hour.

"HOT lanes work like this: Sensors in the pavement track the number of cars and their driving speed. When traffic slows, computers increase the toll to discourage other cars from entering the lanes. Toll amounts are displayed on huge digital signs and debited from an electronic smart card inside the driver's vehicle. At the height of rush hour, drivers can pay around $3 to $5. Carpoolers, buses and motorcycles still use the lane with no toll.

Now the idea is picking up speed across the U.S., with plans under way in more than a dozen cities and states. If all of the express lanes are built, millions of American commuters could face less driving misery every day."

Now who would have expected the People's Republic of Minnesota to be at the country's forefront of market solutions to traffic congestion? See a previous post here on Minnesota's
anti-market solutions to textbook pricing and foreign-made flags.


At 6/29/2007 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Minnesota traffic thing is a Libertarian hoax.

At 6/29/2007 12:03 PM, Blogger Adam said...

I wonder how open to corruption this system is. Thinking like a money-hungry politician, the first thing I would do is put out cones or some other construction type thing. (No need to actually do construction, just need the appearance.) As people start slowing down, traffic backs up, raising the price on the pay lane. The other issue is when the police pull someone over. I don't know Minnesota law, but if people are required to slow down or move over when a police car is on the side of the road, hello congestion. Something tells me this is not quite the free market improvement as claimed.

At 6/29/2007 1:25 PM, Blogger Trevre said...

There is no point in trying to fix the government if we just think that everything is a hoax and a rip off.

I am sure it is possible that someone could manipulate the traffic system and any goverment program for that matter.

While we must have checks and balnces for such programs we also must asssume most people in general are going to do the right thing. If we don't we will end up with policies like taking your shoes off in the airport and not being allowed to bring water through security.

I think the system works great and still encourages car poolers. I think they could make it even better by increasing the speed limit in the hot lanes to 60 or 65 mph, just another added benifit.

At 7/02/2007 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the corruption risk!

There should be two sets of competing HOT lanes for every highway with separate ownership, that way they would be encouraged to have a true "market price".


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