Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Congestion pricing and the Lexus Lane

The U.S. government has the job of building and maintaining the highway system with taxpayer money to keep the oil and auto profits flowing. This is a giant taxpayer subsidy to the private companies that profit from this otherwise economically unsustainable system.

Now the taxpayer is running out of money. So what to do? Privatize the road system. That is why you are hearing more about "congestion pricing" aka "road pricing". States will have to agree to road-price to get a few pathetic crumbs for public transit.

The well-off will speed along the private ["Lexus"] lanes and the rest of us will sit in jams. Of course, there still will be no place to park when you get there. The Washington Post documented this privatization campaign coming straight from the top:

...They and other political appointees have spent the latter part of President Bush's two terms laboring behind the scenes to shrink the federal role in road-building and public transportation. They have also sought to turn highways into commodities that can be sold or leased to private firms and used by motorists for a price....

...For Gribbin, Duvall and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, the goal is not just to combat congestion but to upend the traditional way transportation projects are funded in this country. They believe that tolls paid by motorists, not tax dollars, should be used to construct and maintain roads....