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Putting a price on congestion won’t make it go away

RE “Counter commuter traffic with smart tolls” (Op-ed, Oct. 4): Edward L. Glaeser promotes graduated tolls as a way to reduce traffic jams, and he cites Singapore as an example of the successful use of congestion pricing. Singapore also attaches fees to car ownership that more or less triple the cost of a new car, and its subway system is highly functional.

But I’ve still spent time sitting in rush hour traffic jams in Singapore hemmed in by cars that cost upward of $150,000 after all the fees are added on. The demand for convenience is inelastic. Commuters are willing to pay for it.

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Glaeser is right about the potential to use congestion pricing as a way to raise revenue for mass transit and fairly price access to the roads, but no one should be under the illusion that it would drastically reduce auto traffic to the point where rush hour commuting becomes pleasant.

Michael Sandman


The writer is the former chairman of the Brookline Transportation Board.

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