How Congestion Pricing is Shaping the Future of Transportation

CEE Professor Peter Furth explains the benefits of congestion pricing, which aims to reduce traffic and pollution by charging fees to drive in metropolitan areas. It has been deployed in London, Stockholm, and Singapore and is scheduled to begin in June in sections of New York City.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cyrus Moulton. Main photo: On Wednesday, New York became the first U.S. city to approve congestion tolls on drivers entering its downtown. A Northeastern expert says more cities should follow. AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File

Congestion pricing approved in New York City. Expect it elsewhere soon, traffic expert says

At the end of each semester in his traffic engineering class, Northeastern University professor Peter Furth gives a lecture about transportation of the future.

“I say the most important thing to expect for the future is congestion pricing,” says Furth, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

New York City took a major step toward that future on Wednesday when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the final proposal for congestion pricing. The program is expected to start in June.

Congestion pricing attempts to reduce traffic and pollution by charging prices to drive in certain parts of a city. It has been done in London, Stockholm, and Singapore, Furth says.

Peter Furth, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern, says congestion pricing is the future. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

New York City’s plan will be the nation’s first, charging most drivers a $15 toll for entering much of Manhattan below 60th Street. Trucks would pay $24 or $36, depending on their size. Taxi fares would go up by $1.25, and Uber and Lyft fares by $2.50.

Officials expect the plan will reduce traffic in one of the world’s busiest commercial districts by 17% — similar to other cities with congestion pricing — while also raising money for public transportation.

The plan still faces lawsuits that could derail it, but New York Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed last month that “it will happen.”

Furth thinks it’s about time.

“In an affluent society — and that’s what we are and that’s what we’re becoming more and more — people don’t like waiting in line,” Furth says. “But that’s what we do in traffic. We sit around and wait, and the only alternative to that is pricing.”

Furth explains that each person adding to road congestion contributes to delays experienced by all. If — as the adage goes — time is money; then we are effectively costing other drivers money by joining traffic.

“There’s only one way to find out if your convenience is worth the cost you impose on others and that’s to put your money where your mouth is,” Furth says. “If your time is worth it, put up the money.”

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Faculty: Peter G. Furth

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering