Privatizing toll roads in the U.S. may result in significant diversions
of truck traffic from privatized toll roads to "free" roads, and may
result in more crashes and increased costs associated with use of other
roads, according to a new study.
It’s interesting how congested, dangerous, public roads are framed as a problem of safe, fast, toll roads! The problem, however, is easily solved. Price all the roads! Unrealistic? Foolish? Not at all, especially not for large trucks which are the focus of the above study. The key is to tie the price to the truck not to the road. With today’s GPS technology trucks can be outfitted with GPS devices that can price all roads according to time, congestion, quality and a variety of other factors. In fact, just such a system is working in Germany right now.
In other congestion news the DOT is finally allowing airports to charge landing fees based on congestion. This is good news for travelers who can thank the economically-astute, Harley riding, no-nonsense Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters.
By the way, Transportation Secretary Peters wrote the foreword to Street Smart: Competition, Entrepeneurship and the Future of Roads, a very good book on road pricing and privatization edited by Gabriel Roth and published by the Independent Institute (where I am the director of research.)