The Traffic Cure

Avent defends tolls:

Congestion pricing really isn’t that hard. Congestion is a classic negative externality. When a driver gets on the road, he doesn’t have any reason to think about the additional traffic he is creating, and since the same is true for everyone using scarce, valuable road space, drivers opt to drive until traffic grinds to crawl. We confront problems like this all the time. We tax cigarettes because of the public health costs of smoking. We have used market pricing to limit emissions of various pollutants, and other countries have done the same for carbon. If you set the price to use a valuable piece of road high enough, then you don’t get congestion.

Will this lead to the end of driving? Obviously not. The idea is to allow cars to use the road as intended, at appropriate speeds, predictably and efficiently. If driving falls below the level at which congestion is a problem, you drop the price. In the mean time, we cut out the billions in annual losses due to time and gas wasted in traffic.

Triple amen. And use the money to build bullet trains.