Paying More to Drive: Responses

Last week, an Op Ed I’d written in late February/late March was finally published. I discuss how housing and development in Irvine is misunderstood and the real cause of traffic congestion. I conclude thus:

We – you and I who live in Irvine – have a choice. We can pay attention to the research, experts, and lived experiences of cities with worse traffic problems than ours and change behaviors. Or we irresponsibly continue to waste precious time and resources by fighting growth. The costs of fighting growth include higher home prices which cause many younger people to leave the county, longer commutes for many, more greenhouse gas emissions, and homelessness. Coastal California will always be a desirable place to live. It is up to us to determine how we want to preserve the quality of life we have enjoyed for the future. I suggest that those who use the Irvine roads more should pay more to drive on them too. This is not only fair, it has also been shown in city after city that implemented it to ease congestion and reduce pollution. Another option is to pay those who don’t drive by incentivizing less driving (much like electric vehicle rebates and incentives). Whatever we end up doing, it is imperative that we acknowledge that free use/driving on our roads is the primary cause of the traffic congestion in Irvine.

The responses I’ve received energize me, coming as they do from fiscal conservatives.

I agree with congestion pricing for Irvine although I am not sure the City Council would be willing to implement this idea.  Are there other people/groups supporting this idea – is this a realistic idea considering the current makeup of the Irvine City Council?

However, to be fair to motorists, driving currently in the U.S. is NOT free – part of the gasoline price we pay goes to fed/state gov supposedly to help maintain roads, also part of the annual DMV registration fee is supposed to go to transportation improvements.

There is also the Measure M sales tax funding.  So if you want to persuade motorists to support congestion pricing, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge we already pay something – just not enough —and not pinpointed to change driving times and consolidating trips, etc.

There is already congestion pricing on Freeways – I think the 91 Fwy charges different fees depending on day of week and time of day – someone told me the fee was $10 to drive on a small section of the 941 Fwy toll lanes on a Friday afternoon 4-6pm.

So I do agree that paying more/congestion pricing for major streets in Irvine is a good idea and should work to relieve congestion– and the city can use the funds to support more bike trails, safer pedestrian walkways along major streets, better train schedules, etc.

Thank you for advocating this common-sense solution to a serious problem.  Let me know if more action is coming or how I can give you more support.  Appreciate your alerting me to this issue.

Driving in the US is certainly not free but it is definitely under-priced, wouldn’t you say?

Well, your editorial pushes my thinking in new directions! You have a view of Irvine I do not quite have, as I live so far up the hill that walking to stores is not practical.
But I buy your theory of over-driving. Just not sure how we go about charging for it. We are car addicted, and I am getting to the age of finding biking and long walking not something I could do much of. Hmmm….
Good piece!!

Another astute reader pointed out that “traffic and congestion will not be solved with just one approach, but many, and some of them may not even involve transportation.” Yet another wise friend shared, “When we moved here from the East Coast I was surprised how few toll roads there were. I grew up with the NYS Thruway, NJ Turnpike, etc. Of course the tolls between our home in MD and family on Long Island were expensive, but it was just something we planned for.” Lots to think about, wouldn’t you say?

What do you think?

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