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Decongestion pricing could help fix traffic in the Washington region | Greater Greater Washington

State lawmakers recently sealed a deal to make New York City the first city in the country to implement decongestion pricing, a toll charged on cars entering certain parts of the city. The measure is intended to cut down on the city’s infamous gridlock traffic while also raising much-needed revenue to improve and maintain its aging subway system. Could such a system work in our region?

Also known as “regional zonal pricing” or “cordon pricing,” the congestion fee is typically charged during weekdays. Some types of vehicles can still enter for free, such as ambulances, buses, and cars registered to people with disabilities, but most cars entering the zone have to pay a toll. This differs from pricing whole roads or lanes, as we outlined in our performance driven tolling brief.

Decongestion pricing programs have proven successful in London at reducing the amount of driving in the city, while greatly expanding and enhancing other modes. The move could be a catalyst for other regions in the United States to do the same, and we at the Greater Washington Partnership believe the “Capital Region,” from Baltimore to Richmond, should actively join the conversation.

Traffic congestion is more than just a headache. When too many drivers try to enter the city, it doesn’t just delay commuters and interrupt deliveries to local business. It also gets in the way of more efficient modes like buses, and makes roads unsafe for everyone. All while wasting hours of productivity and putting a drag on economic growth.

The Washington metro region has the second-worst congestion in the entire country, and Capital Region residents know firsthand that we are in dire need of congestion solutions. In fact, last year alone drivers in Washington lost on average 155 hours commuting, costing the region $4.6 billion in economic activity.

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Decongestion pricing could help fix traffic in the Washington region – Greater Greater Washington.