King County Executive Suggests Tolling Entire Freeway System

Well, Ron Sims is suggesting that the concept be examined.

Still, for Seattle, that’s pretty bold. Can we get some of that kind of boldness down here?

8 responses to “King County Executive Suggests Tolling Entire Freeway System”

  1. I don’t think this proposal is going to fly by voters in conjunction with rapidly-rising gas prices. I can see tolls on just the floating bridges and Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle being successful, however, since no one seems to want to pay for their replacements otherwise.

    There is also the argument that tolling the bridges is terribly biased against the lower classes, since that commute is essential for anyone working in Seattle who can’t afford a downtown condo.

    On the other hand, the same gas prices will perhaps increase public transit ridership in cities with effective systems (like Portland and Seattle), which would reduce the traffic burden on the freeways.

  2. Those who use the highways pay for them. In return, those who pay get the benefit of driving on upgraded, less-clogged roads.

    This is not really true. What is happening is that a public resource, previously available to anyone, is being turned over to those who can afford to pay for it. Any money they pay ought to go to provide good alternatives for the folks who are priced off the road for their benefit.

  3. Someone in the other thread asserted that none of this money could be used for transit according to Oregon law. Is this correct?

    That would be the only way I would support this. I don’t believe TriMet could handle the influx in demand. We would have to ensure there are viable alternatives for those that struggle with the fees.

  4. Sunil Garg – I agree with the comment that it isn’t going to fly with voters.

    That’s the problem with “democratizing” a service. You can’t expect for it to ever form to a supply demand curve, nor can you expect people to vote themselves something and actually pay for it. Generally when people vote something in such as interstates, mass transit, or anything along those ideals the costs are born by a minority while the use is generally committed by a non-paying minority.

    Either which way, why would anyone VOTE to actually pay for something they use. What needs to happen is to put the items to market. Then people will act accordingly to responsibility and actual costs incurred. Otherwise the service will either A: go away or B: be unavailable to them. B being the general effect in the marketplace. Rarely does a service go away without direct Government influence.

  5. Someone in the other thread asserted that none of this money could be used for transit according to Oregon law. Is this correct?

    Yes – the Oregon constitution limits the use of all fees paid by motorists to spending on roadways.

  6. I disagree with the assumption that only a minority of people use the interstates or mass transit. In fact, last I heard was that around 60% of adults in the Portland area use transit at least twice a month… that’s a majority.

    Sorry, I don’t have the source for that statistic.

  7. It would take a change in State Law, and possibly the state constitution, but maybe it is long overdue. Same with Federal Law. I would like King County Metro to be able to have a surge fleet too. A lot of routes are seeing traffic upswings lately. The paper the article was in, also ran a story a week ago about gasoline possibly topping $4 per gallon this summer. What is Metro’s worry? For this year, they are getting the Biodiesel that will be blended with the diesel fuel from crops grown by farmers in Yakima County, fertilized by a byproduct of one of the divisons of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

    Perhaps congestion pricing will backfire in a way. If it costs too much, people will use it less. That is the dilemna SF Muni has. There first dedicated funding was created via Ballot Initiative by Rescue MUNI, and it was parking fees, parking taxes, parking meter revenue, and traffic fine money.

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