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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pricing Our Way Out of Traffic Congestion: parking cash out and HOT lanes


The first thing to understand about transportation in California is how grave the problems really are. In terms of both traffic congestion and air pollution, California’s problems are the worst in the nation. Traffic congestion is difficult to comparea mongci ties, but one attempt to rank Americanc ities in terms of their traffic congestion found that Los Angeles is number1 , San Francisco-Oaklandi s number3 , and San Bemardino-R/versidea hd San Diego tie for number8 . Addedt ravel time and added fuel consumptiona ssociated with reduceds peeds in congestedt raffic are estimatedt o cost motorists in these four cities a total of $13 billion a year. Ninety percent of this cost is for the added travel time and 10 percent is for the added fuel consumptionc aused by delays in peak-hour traffic) To put this $13- billion-a-year cost estimate in perspective, the total general revenue (property taxes, sales taxes, business license taxes, etc.) of all c2ities in Califomiaw as $9.4 billion in 1994-1995. Therefore, the estimated costs of traffic congestion in Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, San Bemardino-R/verside, and San Diego alone are 38 percent more than the general revenues of all municipal governments in California combined.

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