Nobody likes sitting idle in traffic yet we keep building roads and supporting the automobile as a transit solution. To alleviate pressure from commuters driving into the city (who are likely not carpooling) cities turn to congestion charging on autos. It’s a simple concept to at least match the cost of using public transit with the cost of driving into a city. Difficulties arise in North America where public transit isn’t well funded and historically policy favoured cars instead of people. The unique challenges in North America are being put to the test this year and it’s looking promising that drivers will actually have to pay for the roads they use.
What happens in New York could set a precedent for the rest of the country, which is undergoing several, simultaneous debates about sweeping reforms amid the progressive “blue wave” that characterizes the left in 2019, from the Green New Deal to Medicare for All. If implemented correctly, congestion pricing, which has already reached cities like London and Stockholm could upend traffic flow and curb carbon emissions while funding the crumbling subway infrastructure.
But congestion pricing also means we risk hurting the working class when we try to mitigate climate change by addressing transportation. Think of the Yellow Vest protests in France: the protests were instigated by a fuel tax law intended to combat climate change. However, working class people argued that the tax was regressive. The scope of the protests gradually expanded to more general societal frustrations—specifically, the fact that lawmakers only try to improve society by taxing the poor.