Community Issues

Could a "Congestion Tax" Be Coming to Your City?

More traffic-choked areas are looking to New York's lead.

Traffic has gotten so bad in major metropolitan areas across the country, some cities are considering implementing a "congestion tax."

According to the New York Times, more and more cities and municipalities are considering following the lead of New York City , which will charge drivers to enter Manhattan's most congested neighborhoods. The tolls, which are expected to start in 2021, will fund public transit and act as a deterrent against driving personal vehicles.

The Times reports that congestion taxes were once seen as politically unfeasible, however, if the New York policy receives public acceptance it could a "game changer" in the words of a Portland, OR transportation official.

The article says Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco are considering or studying some form of congestion pricing. Several foreign cities have improved traffic congestion with a similar tax, including London, Stockholm and Singapore. But critics say the tax is regressive and hurts the poor.

The increase in congestion and commute times in major cities is due in part to both the rise of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, as well a surge in package deliveries from Amazon and other companies. The Times reports traffic congestion has dangerous implications for infrastructure, the environment, and general safety. The number of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. is nearing a three-decade high.

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