Municipal authorities in Paris banned cars with even numbered license plates from entering the city, in a bit to limit traffic and ease record levels of pollution.
This is the first in an infrequent series of pieces that take a step back from breathless blogging. They look at a phenomenon over the longer term, they have more in-depth research, they are hence a bit longer. We will run them on weekends, when some may have the time for 1,200 or more words.
Imagine, if you dare, you live in China’s capital, Beijing. It’s a nice place, actually. The population of Australia crammed into one sprawling city. Good food. Nice people. Great nightlife. As cities go, it covers a lot of space. Beijing proper is a bit less the size of Kuwait.
Now imagine you have your eyes set on a new car. Chery QQ, Chevy Escalade, whatever. What do you have to do to get behind the wheel? You have to win the lottery. Not to buy the car, a QQ goes for a few grand. You need to win the lottery for the same thing that keeps felons employed back home: A small piece of blue and white tin, a license plate.
Your chances of winning are rotten. Imagine you go to Vegas, you put a chip on a single number. If that number comes up on the first spin of the wheel, you may buy a car. If not: Better luck next month, ta-dah!
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The Federal Highway Administration recently held out $10.5 million to bribe states into turning freeways into toll roads through fiscal 2011. As part of the so-called Value Pricing Program, which Congress introduced in 1991, the agency will take taxes paid by drivers at the pump and underwrite projects designed to charge motorists more for driving on existing roads or increase other fees imposed on drivers.
“These projects show that states are developing new ways of thinking about how to manage congestion,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement on projects selected in August.
With Chicago-area residents spending an average of 60 hours per year in traffic, and the city losing over $7b in lost productivity, wasted gas and environmental damage, Chicago is considering a version of congestion pricing that would charge drivers extra to use the left lane. According to chicagobreakingnews.com, Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council studied
the Stevenson Expressway (Interstate 55) from I-355 to downtown Chicago; the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) from I-290/Illinois Highway 53 to Elgin; and the reversible lanes on the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94)
and recommended a fast lane toll to encourage responsible use of the freeways. The study suggested a $2.19 roll for inbound trips, but suggested that a variable toll based on time, trip, and traffic conditions could be imposed. The MPC figures $23m per year could be raised from such a toll on the Kennedy’s reversible lanes alone, and that money is needed for future road construction. But would you be willing to pay a little extra to be guaranteed a fast-moving left lane? Or is this just a revenue-raising “Lexus lane” that will benefit the rich and the city government and few others?