A controversial plan to ease the notoriously clogged streets and freeways in Los Angeles was back in the news last week when the CEO of the LA Metro, Phil Washington, suggested he was in favor of congestion pricing. Mayor Garcetti also suggested the City Council should consider the option even as he acknowledged that charging new fees on drivers in such a car-dependent city would be a political risk. Basically, congestion pricing is charging drivers a fee during the busiest times of the day with the goal of reducing traffic by giving people a powerful incentive to take alternative modes of transportation or avoid traveling during rush hour. The revenue from these fees would help build new transit lines faster and subsidize fares.  

In past decades, officials and politicians frowned on even mentioning the wildly unpopular idea of rush hour fees in car-crazy LA, but public opinion may be changing. Skeptics in other cities around the globe with congestion pricing have changed their tune after seeing the results. After London enacted a congestion charge to enter the city center in 2003, car traffic dropped by nearly 40% and travel speeds on the city streets increased. Stockholm had their congestion tax implemented a decade ago and traffic congestion eased while air pollution in heavily traveled areas dropped. Some 70% of Swedes opposed it before implementation but, within a few years, public opinion flipped and 70% supported the tax. One main reason for this is that global citizens are increasingly becoming more and more supportive when it comes to environmentally friendly laws and policies. 

We housesellers understand that a major catalyst for revisiting the idea of congestion pricing is that the Olympic games will be held in Los Angeles in 2028. City officials desperately want visitors to use public transportation, and congestion pricing could be the boost we need to dramatically reshape our transportation system by getting drivers to use Metro more and their cars less, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping slow climate change. For a detailed explanation of what congestion pricing is and the different ways it could be implemented, please visit this link.