Tolls on bridges and roads used to be common. Before the federal government began writing humungous checks for infrastructure, the rule was to loan localities money. The feds would get paid back from tolls collected.
Earlier, private toll roads and bridges built our first good infrastructures.
There’s increasing talk, now, about congestion pricing of roads — charging more at peak hours, or for fast lane access.
Tim Rutten argues against this. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed called “Congestion pricing — a slippery slope to toll roads,” Rutten says that congestion pricing “discriminates against the working poor.”
Rutten imagines a low-level worker rushing from work to go to the day care center to retrieve her sick child. Driving the jammed lanes would be too slow, so she turns into the fast lane and pays money to get her child faster. Rutten says “A society that can rationalize the imposition of such pain doesn’t need to worry over how to define equity; it needs to worry about its soul.”
Yeah, right. There are costs and choices everywhere. In an emergency, spending a few bucks to help your child is reasonable. Even if you are poor.
But preventing the option from even being available?
Mr. Rutten should rethink his all-or-nothing approach. And maybe even the fantasies that jam up his own soul. Without faster lanes that cost money, the mother would have no choice at all but to sit in traffic.
Solutions that work are better than solutions merely dreamt.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.