KIRO NIGHTS

Gridlock guru believes congestion pricing would change status quo

Apr 16, 2018, 11:57 AM | Updated: 2:39 pm
congestion pricing...
(AP)
(AP)

If Seattle wants majority approval of tolling its most congested streets then leaders should prepare to bargain.

RELATED: A history of why Seattle traffic is so bad

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she wants to implement congestion pricing by the end of her first term. The city will create a plan after studying the downtown area.

It would be the first congestion pricing system in the U.S. that affects all drivers.

Lessons from New York

Advocates have pushed for a congestion zone in Manhattan for years. The effort dates back to at least the early 1970s. Sam Schwartz, aka Gridlock Sam, was there. He says the first effort was killed by Congress.

Schwartz says New York City’s second attempt resulted in a lawsuit.

In 2008, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed for legislation that would have charged drivers $8 to enter a Manhattan congestion zone. Leaders wouldn’t bring it up for a vote.

Just last month lawmakers approved a surcharge on all for-hire vehicles operating in Manhattan south of 96th Street. But the approved legislation was missing the main component — charging all drivers a daily fee to enter the congestion zone.

Part of the hesitation to fully implement congestion pricing in Manhattan may be related to the fact that it was an election year. Schwartz told KIRO Nights he hopes the congestion zone will be for all drivers by next year.

Seattle traffic

There’s a difference — obviously — between Seattle and New York. While much of the five boroughs are serviced by a subway system, trains, and buses; Seattle has an incomplete light rail system, incomplete streetcar line, buses, and monorail. Those who live outside of the city often have no real choice but to drive or carpool in.

Schwartz says he’s not sure how people would respond to congestion pricing in Seattle.

“First thing to ask yourselves, are you happy with the status quo? Is everything working right? Do you not suffer from congestion?”

It isn’t a stretch to say the answer to all of those questions is an emphatic no.

RELATED: Drivers OK with $10 toll lanes, what about $30?

People driving into Seattle during the weekdays spend hours in traffic. The most recent data from the Washington State Department of Transportation show commuters driving from Everett to Seattle — a 23-mile trip — should give themselves more than an hour.

Traveling within the city can be just as frustrating. A combination of over-crowded streets and construction will often lead to travel times well above what they should be. Last year, GeekWire staff conducted a race through the city. The winner was a Onewheel.

Congestion pricing

Congestion pricing hasn’t necessarily been welcomed with open arms in the cities where it exists. Schwartz says that more than 60 percent of people polled in Stockholm were originally against the idea. Six months later, at least 60 percent were for it. Drivers in Stockholm pay a little more than $4 for a trip into or out of the city center.

Schwartz says about 85 percent of drivers won’t change their habits if congestion pricing is implemented. That means a city that does has to accommodate the 15 percent that do. In London, for example, people who live within the congestion pricing zone get a significant discount.

In New York, the most recent legislation called for lowering the other tolls into the city if a congestion zone was created. That proposal alone brought a number of opponents on board with the idea.

As for Seattle, everything seems up in the air. Schwartz says the city needs to come up with a plan that does the greatest good.

KIRO Nights on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to kiro nightsTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 7 pm for KIRO Nights with Jack Stine.

KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights

SPD Officer Adley Shepherd...
Jack Stine

Stine: Plenty of blame to go around for SPD officer who punched handcuffed suspect

I have two thoughts on the officer who was fired from the Seattle Police Department and is now suing the city over his termination.
7 days ago
stolen car...
KIRO Nights

Stine: ‘Disappointing’ SPD can’t do anything about stolen car on sidewalk

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine shares his thoughts on the scene with Seattle police and a stolen car outside KIRO Radio studios Wednesday.
14 days ago
COVID...
Jack Stine

Stine: Nothing but good news about COVID-19

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine says there are two, simultaneous realities about the COVID pandemic that are happening right now.
27 days ago
Seattle dating...
KIRO Nights

Why study saying Seattle is a good city for dating might actually be right

While some have taken issue with a study claiming Seattle is a good town for dating, KIRO Nights host Jack Stine believes it might be right.
1 month ago
Sawant recall turnout, democracy...
Jack Stine

Stine: Democracy failed us in Kshama Sawant recall

With the attempted recall of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant appearing to have fallen short, I have some thoughts.
1 month ago
Dave Chappelle Seattle...
KIRO Nights

Stine: Controversy surrounding upcoming Dave Chappelle performance in Seattle is ridiculous

Asking that Dave Chappelle not be booked until he apologizes to trans people as a whole is a ridiculous argument to make.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Gridlock guru believes congestion pricing would change status quo