I’ve argued before that calling roads public goods is a mistake, and that imposing costs on (actually, revealing costs of) road congestion can help to make traffic flow more efficiently. Here is a round-up of recently articles on actual and planned solutions to reduce traffic.
Seattle implemented a $5 toll on the SR 520 bridge, while I-90 remains free but congested. At least one app has already been released to help commuters calculate the cost in time versus money of the two routes, with real-time traffic information.
New York traffic reportedly moves at a painfully slow 9.6 mph in central Manhattan. A man named Charles Komanoff has proposed increasing the number of taxi medallions and congestion pricing of $8 to $10 per vehicle during peak hours, which he says could reduce average travel times by 12 percent.
Raleigh’s metropolitan planning agency is using the power of data to solve congestion problems. Engineer Kyle Ward, along with entrepreneur Cy Smith, analyzed cell phone data to count the number of daily trips between census tracts in Raleigh. Importantly, they do not follow individual phones. This is good for privacy but limits the usefulness somewhat since we cannot know the actual routes taken.
These developments are important, because they all show how providing planners and commuters with information, whether in the form of a price, an app, or both, can help people to make more efficient choices.