Using the Revenues from Congestion Pricing
The economic theory behind congestion pricing relies on using the revenues to help compensate highway users. But can practical methods of using revenues come close to achieving this compensation, and still have salient appeal to important political groups? This paper investigates the possibilities for designing a package of revenue uses that can achieve these twin goals. The suggested approach returns two-thirds of the revenues to travelers through travel allowances and tax reductions, and uses the rest to improve transportation throughout the area, including affected business centers. By replacing regressive sales and fuel taxes, this approach offsets the tendency of the prices alone to have a regressive distributional impact. By lowering taxes, funding new highways, improving transit, and upgrading business centers, the package provides inducements for support from several key interest groups. The potential amounts of money involved are discussed using nationwide data, and in more detail using a case study of ubiquitous facility pricing throughout the Los Angeles region. Illustrative calculations of the effects on various individuals confirm that such a package can create net benefits for a wide spectrum of people and interest groups.