Thursday, 15 February 2007

User-pays fees for roads a good idea

Liberty Scott has an interesting article about sprawl, roads and how roads should be funded. I fully agree that user-pay fees for roads are an excellent idea, as people would pay for how many kilometres they drive and adjust their car usage and where they live to reduce the cost. This would attract more people to the inner cities making those city centers lively. Because of this, the house price of homes in the 'burbs would go down, making homes in the suburbs more affordable for the lower and middle-classes, without continually adding rings of sprawl around the city.

He also notes that, with a user-pays road system, public transport would become more competitive, which would be excellent for the several thousand commuters who use public transport in New Zealand's cities daily. Petrol taxes could become very low or be abolished entirely.

So while it is the lefties who run our cities who engage in a "war against sprawl" and by doing so make our cities horrendously unaffordable, it is also those same lefties who subsidise living in the sprawl. And in our horrendously unaffordable cities, that is, unsurprisingly, the most attractive option for the middle and lower classes.

Once again, this is another problem-at least to the majority who actually care about it, that the free market can easily solve.


Crampton said...

The University of Canterbury's third annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture will feature Professor Mark Blaug of the University of Amsterdam; he'll be talking about why economists love congestion charging. Details on the event are here.
Any Christchurch folks interested in hearing him should be sure to attend!

Callum said...

Thanks for the info, Crampton. I sure hope the idea is given serious thought by the general public. It is the best solution available for our roading problems and transport in cities.

libertyscott said...

The biggest problem is that it gets diverted off course by environmentalists wanting it to go too far - the biggest point is that it will be win-win as long as it isn't about raising revenue for other purposes.

Callum said...

And if you abolish petrol taxes. Scott, I like the idea you posted about charging a premium during peak times (and on the most congested roads, obviously). It would ensure that tansportation is spread out among the city and other forms of transport are used more.