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Next time, ask Tory first

While I agree with Tom that the Harris County Toll Road Authority would have done well to have simply consulted with Tory Gattis before they implemented their ill-received and short-lived congestion-pricing plan, it seems to me that the stark differences between Tory’s plan and theirs suggests theirs wasn’t very sensible. I don’t have any particular objections to the concept of congestion pricing (though Max Concrete’s comment on Tory’s post is well worth noting), but the goal is supposed to be about incentivizing people to change their driving behavior. The HCTRA plan was far too blunt an instrument for that. As very few normal commuters have the option of not going to or from work during the 6-9 AM and 4-7 PM time frames, the choice everybody else had was to pay a whole lot more, or not take the toll road at all. That’s not an incentive to alter one’s habits, it’s a shakedown. The response to that was neither irrational nor over the top.

As for the conspiracy theory that HCTRA used this as a cover for their overall 25 cent price hike, I’ll borrow from the response that Coca Cola CEO Donald Keough once famously gave when in a similar position: They’re not that dumb, and they’re not that smart.

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  1. Charles Hixon says:

    This error in toll road policy suggests that the toll road system is no longer working through an integrated long-term strategy.

  2. M1EK says:

    Congestion pricing, as practiced in England, works even if other driving alternatives are not available – in their case, it freed up road space (and more funds) for buses.

    This would suggest that the proper place for congestion pricing in Houston is not on the freeways themselves, of course, since the buses are in the HOV lane, right? But on city streets, go right ahead; even if there’s no driving alternative. The alternative is supposed to be the bus, on the same streets.