Will the new transport bill be fair?


Traffic slows down on a freeway on September 5, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

One of these days a big new transport bill is finally going to be passed. I hope it’s bipartisan, but even more than that, I hope it’s honest.

What I mean, I hope it requires honest pricing of the different transportation alternatives. And that doesn’t just assume that the answer to every transportation problem is more lanes.

For example, I see that in Texas – where they are paving everything – there is now a movement to use some of that infrastructure money not to build more freeway lanes, but to remove them on the grounds that the Additional lanes have not relieved congestion, but rather are an attractive nuisance that worsens traffic.

Which brings me to the concept of fair pricing.

The cost of a highway goes well beyond the cost of building it. There is the cost to the surrounding neighborhood in terms of pollution and noise, the cost of removing prime land from the market, and the psychological cost of forcing people to rely entirely on cars. And, of course, there is the maintenance. The endless interview.

The highways are never quite finished, are they? I-5, 520, I-90 – all are under constant construction! You can see their stretch marks etched in the ghost alleys.

Well, the slogan for this infrastructure plan is supposed to be “Build Back Better”. Not “Bulldoze Bigger Boondooggles”.

So I would like planners to calculate the total cost of highways before embarking on more projects that simply incorporate more lanes.

And as to how we pay for all of this – if no one wants to tax billionaires because that would be socialism, then damn it, in the spirit of a truly free market, we should each pay the real cost per mile. .

And yes, I would treat transit the same – charge what it really costs for the service.

If we really believe in the free market, we can trust it to adapt. And if not, then we are taxing billionaires.

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