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So, it's 5 o'clock in New York City and I'm about to catch a cab about 5 miles uptown.
Let's see how this goes.
So it just took me 40 minutes to go about 4.5 miles which is pretty typical for New York City rush hour.
Despite a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, the average car moving through NYC is driving
at just 7.1 MPH, down from 9.1 MPH in 2010.
And if you're in midtown it's even worse, with cars moving around 5 MPH.
But it's not just New York City – traffic in cities like LA is so bad drivers could
be locked in gridlock for hours.
Of course this sucks for drivers, but it also makes activities like biking or walking less safe
because cyclists and pedestrians have to weave through an obstacle course of cars.
Not to mention the estimated 20 billion dollars in lost revenue due to wasted time sitting in traffic.
Now, there might be a solution, but if you commute by car, you are probably not gonna like it.
It's called congestion pricing. And it means charging drivers for using the roads.
"Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come. And I believe this is the year to actually get it done."
New York's plan is still in the works, and it probably won't be enacted until 2020.
But the end game is to reduce congestion by discouraging people from driving if they have
other options like biking, or taking a train, or walking.
And to fund public transit at the same time.
It's not a groundbreaking idea: congestion pricing is already old news in cities around the world.
London enacted a similar policy in 2003.
This is a necessary step for us to reclaim some of the space that is currently given to a motorized vehicles without ending up with gridlock.
Nicole Badstuber researches urban infrastructure and policy at the University of Cambridge and according to her, the system's pretty simple.
When drivers enter the Central London congestion zone between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., they're
charged 11 pounds 50 pence – about 15 US dollars.
New York City's plan will be similar.
When drivers enter Midtown or Lower Manhattan, they'll face a fee.
There's cameras all around the roads at the edges of the congestion charging area.
They automatically recognize the name plate of the car or the vehicle entering the zone.
London has a few exemptions in place, like
for people who live inside the congestion zone or vehicles with 9 or more seats and
New York City will likely do that, too. And the system works.
So since it was introduced, we've seen that private vehicles
entering the zone have gone down by 40 percent.
Overall vehicle traffic has gone down by 25 percent.
Cycling overall has increased 66% since the charge was instituted and bus ridership reached a 50-year high in 2011.
And wait times for buses decreased 25%, due to increased service both on buses and on the London Underground.
So we now, in comparison, still have much higher frequencies of London Underground services.
We can get more people, more capacity, more people into our trains because we have newer trains.
And like Nicole said, congestion pricing isn't just about removing cars from specific zones,
it's about reclaiming a space for the public.
Picture Trafalgar Square, but designed for cars – an idea that was very much a reality before congestion pricing.
You would basically have a bus driving right past your nose as you come out of the National Gallery
Reclaiming that section of road made the square safer and opened it to more public events.
No one could imagine going back to what it was before, and having these cars and buses zoom past you.
London's plan is widely embraced today, but it was met with resistance at first, with
opponents arguing that congestion pricing could cut people off from health care, shopping, and schools.
Plus, people had to trust that the government would work efficiently and make significant
improvements to their public transit system.
But within a year, London's congestion charging had majority support.
As New York's plan is being finalized, some similar resistance is cropping up, which isn't too surprising.
After all, it's the first US city to implement this type of congestion pricing and no one
wants to pay for something they've gotten for free for so long.
But the plan could generate up to a billion dollars for public transit, a system that
most agree desperately needs repair.
And the city estimates it will reduce congestion by 8 to 13 percent and increase speeds by
up to 9 percent, making a ride through midtown a lot easier.
So, like other cities where congestion pricing has been successful, it's likely that people
will end up accepting it.
When we think of our roads, in particular in cities, as a sort of public good, as a public
space, then if you're taking up more of it you should probably be paying for that privilege.
If you start to think about how everyone gets around the city, charging cars begins to make a lot more sense:
You pay for parking, pay for the subway, pay to take a train or a bus, so
why wouldn't we pay for a city road?
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The traffic solution most cities haven't tried

205 Folder Collection
published on June 1, 2019    translated    Evangeline reviewed
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