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For Politicians, Congestion Pricing Is an Exercise in Delaying Gratification

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Sometime in the next month or two, the Cuomo administration is expected to release its congestion pricing plan for New York City. This is when the politics of putting a price on driving get difficult.

A well-crafted congestion pricing plan is a lock to relieve the burden of excess traffic on city streets. There’s a reason every city that has adopted a cordon toll system has decided to keep it.

But some cities never find out, because they get mired in what Stockholm transportation director Jonas Eliasson calls the “valley of political death.” As congestion pricing gets more attention in public discussion, people can clearly envision the cost of tolls, while the benefits of less traffic and better transit remain intangible or uncertain.

This is the moment when congestion pricing referendums in Manchester, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland, failed. Residents never experienced the benefits of congestion pricing, and they voted against

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