Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a proposal to toll roads downtown as a method of raising revenue for transit and decreasing traffic in Seattle.
The tactic, called congestion pricing, hasn’t been implemented on surface streets in the United States before. It’s meant to reduce traffic by discouraging people from driving and then plow that money into improved public transit options and electric vehicle infrastructure.
In so doing, it would also help achieve Seattle’s pollution reduction goals.
European cities, like London, England have implemented congestion pricing in their downtown areas, and have seen significant impacts. Driving into central London on a weekday costs roughly $16 at the current exchange rate. A 2016 report by the Centre for Public Impact found that the number of people entering the city center by bus rose by 37 percent in the first year that the charge was implemented. The organization also found a significant reduction in injuries.
There are few details on the parameters of how such a charge would look here in Seattle. Durkan simultaneously announced a study led by the Seattle Department of Transportation to create the policy. A poorly developed version could hurt low-income people and people of color who are pushed out of Seattle but depend on jobs in the city.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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