Greater Greater Washington

MoveDC plan proposes more cycletracks, transit, and tolls. Will it become a reality?

The latest draft of DDOT's citywide transportation plan, moveDC, calls for a massive expansion of transit and cycling facilities throughout the District, plus new tolls on car commuters. If it actually becomes the template for DC's transportation, the plan will be one of America's most progressive.


The moveDC plan summary map. All images from DDOT.

DDOT released the latest version of moveDC last Friday, launching a month long public comment period in anticipation of a DC Council hearing on June 27. Following that, the mayor will determine any changes based on the comment period, and adopt a final plan likely this summer.

What's in the plan

Amid the hundreds of specific recommendations in the plan, a few major proposed initiatives stand out:

  • A vastly improved transit network, with 69 miles of streetcars, transit lanes, and improved buses.
  • A new Metrorail subway downtown.
  • A massive increase in new cycling infrastructure, including the densest network of cycletracks this side of Europe.
  • Congestion pricing for cars entering downtown, and traveling on some of DC's biggest highways.
Transit


Proposed high-capacity transit network (both streetcars and bus). Blue is mixed-traffic, red is dedicated transit lanes.

The plan proposes to finish DC's 22-mile streetcar system, then implement a further 47-mile high-capacity transit network that could use a combination of streetcars or buses. That includes 25 miles of dedicated transit lanes, including the much requested 16th Street bus lane.

Although the proposed high capacity transit corridors closely mirror the 37-mile streetcar network originally charted in 2010, there are several new corridors. In addition to 16th Street, moveDC shows routes on Wisconsin Avenue, both North and South Capitol Streets, H and I Streets downtown, and several tweaks and extensions to other corridors.

The plan endorses WMATA's idea for a new loop subway through downtown DC, but explicitly denies that DC can fund that project alone.

MoveDC also shows a network of new high-frequency local bus routes, including Connecticut Avenue, Military Road, Alabama Avenue, and MacArthur Boulevard.

Bicycles

MoveDC also includes a huge expansion of trails and bike lanes, especially cycletracks.


Proposed bike network. The pink lines are cycletracks.

Under the plan, DC would have a whopping 72 miles of cycletracks crisscrossing all over the city. From South Dakota Avenue to Arizona Avenue to Mississippi Avenue, everybody gets a cycletrack.

Meanwhile, moveDC shows major new off-street trails along Massachusetts Avenue, New York Avenue, and the Anacostia Freeway, among others.

Tolls for cars

Congestion pricing is clearly on DDOT's mind, with multiple proposals for new variable tolls in the plan.


Proposed downtown cordon charge zone.

The most aggressive proposal is to a declare a cordon charge to enter downtown in a car. This idea has worked in London and has been discussed in New York and San Francisco, but so far no American city has tried it.

Meanwhile, some of the major car routes into DC would also be converted to managed lanes. Like Maryland's ICC or Virginia's Beltway HOT lanes, managed lanes have variable tolls that rise or fall based on how busy a road is.

MoveDC proposes managed lanes on I-395, I-295, New York Avenue, and Canal Road.

What will the council think?

DDOT has produced a very strong plan, but is it going anywhere? The DC Council will discuss moveDC on June 27, at which time we'll find out if the same people who pulled the rug out from under streetcar funding are interested in progressive policy-making, at least.

Even if DC does adopt this plan, whether the council will actually provide the funds necessary to build it is anybody's guess.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the DC Council will approve or deny this plan. Actually, the mayor has authority to adopt the plan entirely on his own.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for Arlington County, but his blog posts represent only his own personal views. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives car-free in Washington. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post

Comments

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I question some of their designations. For bike routes, they don't mark the CCT, but do mark Canal Road as a bike route.

by SJE on Jun 2, 2014 10:10 am • linkreport

Didn't the council just vote to significantly reduce streetcar funding? Does that decision affect the plan outlined here?

by Tim on Jun 2, 2014 10:20 am • linkreport

CM Bowser and CM Catania have both said the street car is important. Their issues, according to them, are with the management of the program, not with the choice of modes.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Jun 2, 2014 10:24 am • linkreport

Talk (and planning) are cheap.

Money is truth.

Exciting plan if anything remotely like it is actually implemented, though.

by h st ll on Jun 2, 2014 10:29 am • linkreport

@AWalkerIntheCity: Of course, the problem is that this whole plan is proposed by the same agency that has been managing the streetcar program. Not exactly promising, given the timing.

On the plus side, we now know that DDOT clearly isn't wasting money on people with expensive skills in making maps that actually convey information. The maps in this report are pretty much all overly complicated, jumbled messes.

by Gray on Jun 2, 2014 10:30 am • linkreport

That the Council perceives problems with managing the implementation of the streetcar, is, AFAICT, neither here not there in terms of the validity of this plan.

BTW, is this in fact the first time a local jurisdiction (not WMATA, IOW) has endorsed the loop/seperate blue line idea? I would say thats a huge step forward, though many more remain (including NoVa support, EIS, etc)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/its-alive-many-say-reports-of-washington-streetcars-demise-are-greatly-exaggerated/2014/05/31/af1d8fe8-e82e-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

I’m solidly behind streetcars,” she said. “That’s the only way that we’ll be able to accommodate the growth that’s expected in this city, in this region.”

She continued: “It’s really going to be up to the next mayor of the District of Columbia how fast we can move,” adding that if the voters select her in November, a major objective in her Department of Transportation will be to “recruit really innovative thinkers around how we move people around our city and our public transportation infrastructure.”

Her main opponent in the November election, fellow D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), echoed that support. “I’m committed to streetcars, and I know the vast majority of the body is,” he said, adding that he will take Mendelson “at his word” that there will be enough funding for the future.

.....

“They have yet to finish H Street. That’s the bottom line,” Mendelson said. “If they can demonstrate to the council they can really build this out, we will provide the dollars.”
</1>

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 10:36 am • linkreport

IOW, it's up to DDOT to blow it.

Based on the track record to date, they should be able to do that.

by bcc on Jun 2, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:
That the Council perceives problems with managing the implementation of the streetcar, is, AFAICT, neither here not there in terms of the validity of this plan.
I agree with you that it's not particularly relevant to the validity of this plan. However, it is relevant to the political feasibility of this plan actually being implemented.

As you quoted above, the speed of the streetcar implementation has allowed most of the Council to claim they are strong streetcar supporters while significantly cutting streetcar funding. If that pattern continues, they may do the same with this plan.

by Gray on Jun 2, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

Ambitious plans are great. Realistic ones are better.

by jimble on Jun 2, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

Gray

There is debate about the impact of the cut on the current implementation schedule. And strong hints that whoever becomes Mayor will move to reverse the cuts once Grey is out of office.

By the time most of the items in this plan are close to execution, the current admin will be an increasingly distant memory.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 10:50 am • linkreport

At some point in history maps became a way to complicate explantions rather than simplify them.

A downtown congestion charge is a bad idea. "managed tolling" is proving to be a failure except as a way to be a robber barron, in the orginial sense.

Incremental improvements (seperated signals, better use of street parking) at a more granular level is more needed to setting up new funding systems.

by charlie on Jun 2, 2014 10:59 am • linkreport

Managed lanes are working fine on the beltway in NoVa. They have added capacity, are used by people in a hurry (we've used them when running late) and also encourage car pooling and bus usage.

I do not know the details of the congestion charge, but I think it can also be a good idea.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 11:03 am • linkreport

Based on statements from the District CMs (and comments from some of the readers here), one might reasonably conclude DDOT is an autonomous organization exempt from Council oversight. So then what exactly is the purpose of Cheh's Committee on Transportation and the Environment if not to exert authority of DDOT? Do they really have no other power other than to defund projects (like the streetcar) when they're not pleased with performance? That doesn't sound right to me.
"managed tolling" is proving to be a failure
I think all of the people lined up on slug lines every day would disagree.

Congestion tolls are a great idea. Based on the types of cars I see pulling in and out of downtown parking garages every day, I don't think it would create any type of hardship on drivers. Require the revenue be used exclusively for public transit projects.

by dcmike on Jun 2, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport

So, if you live in the downtown cordon zone, does that mean you can't leave your home in a car without paying a congestion charge/toll? That would suck for reverse commuters and their guests.

Also, worth noting that since the US embassy refuses to pay the congestion charge in London, zippy chance any embassy pays it in DC.

by Falls Church on Jun 2, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

Note to DDOT: You do not have a congressional representation. MD and VA will not allow commuter tolling, however much it makes sense, is reasonable and needed.

by Jasper on Jun 2, 2014 11:32 am • linkreport

Congestion tolls are a great idea. Based on the types of cars I see pulling in and out of downtown parking garages every day, I don't think it would create any type of hardship on drivers.

Then, why not tax downtown parking garages even more rather than tolling every single vehicle that passes through the zone? If it works like London, you'll have to pay it to pass through the zone from 7am - 6pm, M-F.

by Falls Church on Jun 2, 2014 11:32 am • linkreport

I agree with DCMike. DDOT has done their part and good job of it as well. It's a plan that is according to the councils wishes (which is 75% of trips be non-auto) and here they've done a good job and id'd a number of ways to fund it.

by Drumz on Jun 2, 2014 11:33 am • linkreport

@ Walker:Managed lanes are working fine on the beltway in NoVa.

You are forgetting some words there.

Managed lanes are working fine on the beltway in NoVa for the time being

Remember that the HOT lanes have frozen the Beltway in VA for the coming 753 years. 75 years ago, [insert out-fo-date historical factoit].

by Jasper on Jun 2, 2014 11:35 am • linkreport

"Then, why not tax downtown parking garages even more rather than tolling every single vehicle that passes through the zone? "

Er, because cars passing through the zone (but not parking in it - whether using it is a route, or dropping/picking up) also add to congestion?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 11:36 am • linkreport

"Remember that the HOT lanes have frozen the Beltway in VA for the coming 753 years. 75 years ago, [insert out-fo-date historical factoit]."

There isn't room for further lanes anyway. To either do the land purchases it would take to widen, or to add a second deck, would be massively expensive. IF we get to the point where commutes in Tysons can justify that, its almost certain a heavy rail line (not excluded by the Transurban agreement, AFAIK) will certainly make more sense.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 11:38 am • linkreport

Congestion tolling is fantastic idea and sorely needed. I agree with @dcmike that funds collected should go to improve and make transit more attractive and faster for users. With less cars, they can make downtown and its fringes more hospitable for new residents.

Taxis and car-share products deserve an exemption, but for Uber and other ride-share products, it will likely present a regulatory hurdle, though not insurmountable.

I'm surprised to see little said on performance parking, given its success in matching supply and demand at the right rates to make more parking available in San Francisco. I believe they are planning to expand the pilot program.

by cmc on Jun 2, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

The congestion charge is an awful idea. Countless problems there. It screws over poor people, penalizes people for running errands, hurts businesses in areas that aren't particularly well served by transit, so on and so forth. It will work to reduce traffic, but there are way too many negative externalities for my taste. Traffic isn't the worst thing in the world. Mitigating that where you can is good, but adding $3 a trip for somebody to pick up their dry cleaning? DC is expensive enough to live in already. The middle and working classes are already quite squeezed. You're going to keep them off the roads while the rich will continue to drive. Roads will become the property of the wealthy rather than shared infrastructure. Do we really need to go further in the direction of a plutocracy?

I like the rest of the plan. But tolls are regressive. They hurt the poor much more than the wealthy, and that's something we should avoid.

by Zeus on Jun 2, 2014 11:48 am • linkreport

Congestion toll pricing downtown is a non-starter and will generate a torrent of opposition. It will face a mammoth attack from the commercial office space and retail markets who will produce their own studies illustrating negative impacts.

It will raise blood pressure citywide, and whatever DC adopts will have an extensive list of carve-outs (I'm going to church exception, my adjusted income is only XXXX, my bicycle has a flat and I had to drive exception)

The broader problem is Congress, the gas tax, and funding infrastructure generally.

by kob on Jun 2, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

Mitigating that where you can is good, but adding $3 a trip for somebody to pick up their dry cleaning? DC is expensive enough to live in already.

But that's the entire point of the charge - to encourage trip-chaining (multiple stops on one trip) and use of other modes. We don't want you going out just to get your dry cleaning during the busiest times. Never mind the fact that the congestion charge would only be in the Central Business District - why are you driving from your hood into the CBD to get your dry cleaning? That's exactly the behavior we want to discourage.

by MLD on Jun 2, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

I think just making some mention of performance parking and residential parking changes was smart of DDOT. Nothing will get the Council to oppose this plan faster than an explicit mention that parking rules will change. Let's kick that one down the road for a later argument.

As for congestion pricing, there is a pretty substantial body of law out there putting the kabosh on DC attempts to circumvent the prohibition on a commuter tax. That said, an in-DC tax on everyone is different than putting up a toll booth on the 14th Street bridge, so it is possible DC could win the lawsuit when brought by AAA on behalf of the aggrieved class of Maryland drivers. I think it is worth a shot - we might win!

by fongfong on Jun 2, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

"The congestion charge is an awful idea. Countless problems there. It screws over poor people"

Then use the money to reduce taxes on the poor.

" penalizes people for running errands"

thats the idea, to discourage running errands by car in the CBD.

"hurts businesses in areas that aren't particularly well served by transit,"

but it would only apply to areas with multiple metro rail lines.

" It will work to reduce traffic, but there are way too many negative externalities for my taste."

I am confused by your use of the word "externalities" Externalities does not mean "impacts".

"Traffic isn't the worst thing in the world."

No it isnt. thats why the charge is only 3 bucks, and would only apply to the CBD.

" Mitigating that where you can is good, but adding $3 a trip for somebody to pick up their dry cleaning? DC is expensive enough to live in already. The middle and working classes are already quite squeezed. You're going to keep them off the roads while the rich will continue to drive."

Thats what people said about the HOT lanes in Va, but its not true. Lots of people in a range of incomes find them convenient when they are in a hurry.

" Roads will become the property of the wealthy rather than shared infrastructure. Do we really need to go further in the direction of a plutocracy? "

So lets provide water and electricity and food for free, so they are not the property of the wealthy. Why is it that pricing to allocate scarce resources makes sense for everything else, but not for roads?

"But tolls are regressive. They hurt the poor much more than the wealthy, and that's something we should avoid."

Just cut taxes on the poor to offset it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 11:58 am • linkreport

@Zeus

Like London, I would imagine a congestion charge applies only to the central business district. I don't think anyone can make the case that any area in downtown is not well served by transit, and so your argument that it will hurt businesses in areas not served by transit doesn't hold up.

Similarly, I'm not convinced that it hurts poor people. Considering the cost of gas and parking downtown, they're likely to take transit even before a congestion charge enters the equation.

by JDS32 on Jun 2, 2014 12:00 pm • linkreport

Regarding bike facilities, the prioritization given by the document suggests that they will focus on three projects in the near term: (1) extending the PA ave bike track to Georgetown, (2) filling in holes in the 15th bike down to the mall, and (3) extending the M St bike track all the way to 6th st NE (!).

So, is this actually an insight into DDOT's plans? I realize the document has grand ideas that may not happen, but since these are labeled as the top priorities, perhaps these are most likely to happen?

(Also labeled as high priority are a separated bike trail on NY ave NE?? Sounds awesome but I have trouble picturing it. Plus several bridge crossings, Mass Ave NW of Dupont to the border, 16th st for the northernmost few miles, Georgia Ave, and others. The highest priority group is actually fairly large)

by JR on Jun 2, 2014 12:00 pm • linkreport

I don't in theory have a problem with academic arguments but sometimes discussion of those that are never going to happen - like congestion pricing in DC - crowd out discussions for those thing that can actually happen.

DC is never going to be allowed to do congestion pricing - representatives/voices from MD and VA are going to put their foot down and the "idea" will die with nary a sound. We do have to remember that while there are some things transportation wise DC has control over, some things we don't. This like the commuter tax, is one of them. Then their is the management/implementation of such a thing which seems to also make it a non-starter.

by ET on Jun 2, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

JDS32

Yes you can make an argument

Constitution Ave west of 11th Street

The area between Archives Judiciary Sq, Union Station, 2nd Street NE/SE.
As someone who had to get to Constitution Ave & Louisiana Ave there are no bus stops over there for buses that run throughout the day the X1 is the only bus and its rush hour and the 96 does not stop over there and no Metrorail
stations nearby.

What about the poor who are not going to downtown but through; there are not many ways to travel east/west and north/south in DC with this if you are going to Virginia or coming from SE or SW to NW (not apart of this zone) you could get hit or you would have to go out of your way to go around it.

The road tax is a good idea for certain roads but for New York Ave it should start after Bladensburg Rd due to many residents of the area Ft Lincoln, Langdon, Ivy City, Trinidad etc using New York Ave. With the limited routes that can be taken due to railroad tracks you really screw people living in the areas.

I say there should be tax on roads but each of those roads with the tax should have all day transit in the form of Metrorail nearby or a bus line on the actually road for the entire portion that is tolled

What I find odd is why does the downtown zone go around GW, State Dept, Kennedy Center and the western end of The Mall but not cover them, it should extend to the river not zigzag around buildings

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 12:18 pm • linkreport

I see that a Massachusetts Ave. bridge over the Anacostia River is proposed. Good or bad?

by DaveG on Jun 2, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

@DaveG
I'm not seeing that.

by MLD on Jun 2, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

@DaveG... It looks like the proposed Mass Ave bridge is for a trail crossing. It's included in the bicycle section of the plan, but not the vehicle section.

by Steven H on Jun 2, 2014 1:43 pm • linkreport

I think it's on the bike map? I'm not a fan. I don't see a lot of demand to cross the river at that point.

by I.Rex on Jun 2, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

This is wonderful. Finally, some vision! Congestion charge is way overdue. MD and VA's crybaby driver set can go to hell; this is our city and it's our pedestrians and transit that they're killing and blocking with their cars.

A little disappointed in the transit plan - I think we need even more dedicated lanes on many more corridors (e.g., the fact that we don't have one on a north-south route like 7th or 14th - with actual mixed uses and foot traffic - seems a bit of a mystery to me). But what there is is a good start. And having that east-west route through Columbia Heights is excellent.

It's nice to see some cojones. Too bad the forces of darkness are already mustering to repulse this glimmer of the 21st century, but I'm looking forward to fighting the good fight.

by LowHeadways on Jun 2, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

If Hill East is going to be redeveloped into mixed-use then people from across the river will want to be able to cross.

by MLD on Jun 2, 2014 2:06 pm • linkreport

Congestion Pricing would be a good idea. The Central Business District is well served by almost every kind of public transportation as the focal point of our transit systems. People who choose to drive instead of taking the multiple other options impose a burden on the city in terms of congestion and it's right to make people pay for the cost they are imposing.

That said, commenters are correct that this will lead to a lot of political opposition and may get killed by congress. If we can't have a congestion charge, heavy taxes on parking garages and lots within the CBD would be a good idea so as to discourage commuters from driving and clearing up congestion/traffic downtown.

Right now, traffic in the CBD is absolutely unbearable during rush hour, it takes forever to drive anywhere. It would be better for people who legitimately had to drive in this area to have a congestion charge, because even if they had to pay a little more they wouldn't have to waste all of their time in traffic.

by KingmanPark on Jun 2, 2014 2:16 pm • linkreport

MD and VA's crybaby driver set can go to hell; this is our city and it's our pedestrians and transit that they're killing and blocking with their cars.

If you want to save any shred of inter-regional cooperation, the congestion charge will have to be removed from plans. Otherwise, we'll be seeing which region can make the other region cry "uncle" first.

by Falls Church on Jun 2, 2014 2:35 pm • linkreport

Congestion pricing is a regressive tax, while congestion itself tends to be progressive.

I wonder who would actually pay the congestion tax? My hunch is that there would be a reduction in demand for parking roughly commensurate with the increaed fee, so that drivers who currently pay to park would not end up paying much more. The losers would be the parking lot owners and people with free parking, some of whom are DC residents taking advantage of the zone system.

by JimT on Jun 2, 2014 2:38 pm • linkreport

More significant than the HOT lanes along 495, I always thought the consistent number of lanes was best for 495. That was easily seen during the brief time period before construction on the lanes began after the Springfield Interchange project was completed. The biggest problems with 395 are the changing number of lanes and topography. The HOT lanes won't help that.

by selxic on Jun 2, 2014 2:39 pm • linkreport

While I expect a reflex opposition to a congestion tax from both Md and Va, I wonder how many NoVan's actually do commute into DC by car. As FC has pointed out employment growth in NoVa makes that commute less important to NoVa overall. Many of those who do make the commute now go by metrorail, VRE, and commuter bus (in that order) and a handful by foot and bike. more will use metro rail when the Silver Line is done, and more will use VRE when the Long Bridge project is done. A seperate blue line/loop would make possible even more metro commuters from NoVa via transit.

A willingness on the part of DC to use a substantial part of the revenue for a seperate Blue line/loop could address some of Va's more reasoned concerns. Alternatively, a real committment by Va to funding the seperate blue line/loop could make the congestion charge less important to DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 2:43 pm • linkreport

Well I've been saying its crazy not to include Wisconsin Ave every meeting I go to (even though I don't live there any more) good to see it's finally getting a nod. Desperately needs some kind of premium transit.

by BTA on Jun 2, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

While downtown could use a new loop, the core crowding won't be alleviated until we have a true Beltway loop line. The Purple line being light rail is a short sighted short term fix.

by Redline SOS on Jun 2, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

"Congestion pricing is a regressive tax, while congestion itself tends to be progressive. "

Congestion is also dreadfully wasteful of motorist time, causes pollution (both criteria pollutants and GHGs) and can be associated with unpleasant streets for pedestrians and cyclists. Its not a desirable thing.

Congestion pricing is no more regressive than pricing ANY good or service. If we are truely concerned about income distribution among social classes there are more direct ways to address it than providing a scarce resource for free.

"I wonder who would actually pay the congestion tax? My hunch is that there would be a reduction in demand for parking roughly commensurate with the increaed fee, so that drivers who currently pay to park would not end up paying much more. The losers would be the parking lot owners"

Since there is still new construction occuring in the congestion zone, and the new zoning code would allow parking free buildings there, that space could (structural engineering allowing) be repurposed, thus limiting landowner losses, and providing a benefit from increased supply of space to other uses.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

@ KingmanPark

"The Central Business District is well served by almost every kind of public transportation as the focal point of our transit systems. "

That is a false statement! Most of it is well served not all as I pointed out above.

The area south of Judiciary Sq between Union Square along Constitution Ave & Louisiana Ave & surrounding roads.

The area bound by H Street NW, 14th ST NW & the Potomac River to the Bureau of Engraving has very limited transit service and almost none on weekends.

Both of these have transit during rush hour and lack it all most all other times.

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

A congestion charge may be regressive since it's flat but that also means that transit fares are regressive as well (though metro train fares do scale for distance, not the income of the rider).

That said, if that's the main argument against it, I think I can stomach it. For what's proposed it's easily avoidable and money from it can be used to directly support the means to avoid it.

And it is worth talking about. It can be easy to predict arguments against from stakeholders but let's get them on record rather than doing their job for them.

by Drumz on Jun 2, 2014 2:48 pm • linkreport

"The area south of Judiciary Sq between Union Square along Constitution Ave & Louisiana Ave & surrounding roads."

There's a metro stop at judiciary square.

"The area bound by H Street NW, 14th ST NW & the Potomac River to the Bureau of Engraving has very limited transit service and almost none on weekends."

All of western downtown? Ok. If you ignore all the metro stations and bus lines through there.

/and it's not like this plan is set in stone. We can always examine the benefits of a particular exception.

by Drumz on Jun 2, 2014 2:59 pm • linkreport

While I expect a reflex opposition to a congestion tax from both Md and Va, I wonder how many NoVan's actually do commute into DC by car.

The reason to do a congestion charge isn't for commuters. All of them park in garages which are taxed and could be taxed more if you want to further discourage them. The reason for a congestion charge is to toll everyone else -- people running errands in the middle of the day, household workers like contractors, DC residents who are reverse commuters, etc.

Maybe in a few decades when these plans are implemented, DC will have daytime congestion downtown like you see in NYC and London. But, for now it's overkill for a charge to apply outside of commuting times.

by Falls Church on Jun 2, 2014 3:03 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church ; I don't know, a congestion charge could be the savior of CRE in Crystal City and Rosslyn.

by charlie on Jun 2, 2014 3:18 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz

I'm point out stuff that is untrue and was posted in comments if you would look at the Metrobus map and the schedules of the bus routes that travel in the areas I mentioned you will see that I'am right about there being a lack of service.

Judiciary Sq is not all that closes to Constitution Ave especially with the closer entrance closed on weekends.

What metro station is south of H Street NW and is west of 14th Street ? The closest are Federal Triangle, Farragut West (Depending on day of the week and what entrance) & Foggy Bottom

What buses travel near Constitution Ave NW, 17th Street NW, 18th ST NW, 19th ST NW, 20th and so on every day at all times ? The only buses that goes near this area is the 80 & which has been mentioned on here in the past as having terrible service. Another route the 31 runs but does run but does not cover much of the area mentioned. The other routes X1, 7Y, N3, L1, 13F, 13G & H1 all are rush hour routes that do not run at other times

I did not say all of Western Downtown and infact that is not all of Western Downtown go look at a map

Yes it is not set in stone but that does not excuse lies being posted by people who have in fact not taking the time to examine or survey the area and say it is well served by transit when it is not.

I have been keep track of all transit within DC since the mid 80's and I know which areas have and dont have service and which ones use to have service and dont now and so fourth.

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 3:23 pm • linkreport

Re Bike/Ped - better Military Rd crossings are a no brainer and 14th st really needs a completed bike lane. Park Rd would be nice. Also yes to New Jersey Ave, it is not a very pleasant place to ride right now, really most access to/from Union Station from the west isn't great. It's insane to me that there are still roads in the city without sidewalks on either side.

by BTA on Jun 2, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

kk

I would assume that any time of day/week the congestion charge is over zero should be a time when the metro entrances are all open.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 2, 2014 3:28 pm • linkreport

Kk,

Except all those areas are well within reasonable walking distance of metro stations. Not more than a few blocks at each turn.

Your qualification for what counts as transit accessible seems way narrower than most here or in general.

But, the beauty of the congestion charge is that it can help pay to establish new bus services that can hew much closer to a particular block.

by Drumz on Jun 2, 2014 3:34 pm • linkreport

I'n not against congestion pricing or automatic tolling. (I'd like to see the GW Parkway and Rock Creek Pkwy be automatically tolled to put some money into NPS coffers.) However, any tolling scheme has to consider spillover effects. For example, putting a toll on Canal Rd (vs Chain Bridge, for example), might divert enough traffic to MacArthur Blvd to turn the latter into a parking lot.

by Jack on Jun 2, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

@ Drumz

What I count as transit accessible is about 4 to 5 average blocks(not those super long blocks we have in some parts of DC) not including crossing highways, bridges, very steep hills etc and is able to be traversed by an elderly or disabled person (I believe in equal service for all when it comes to public transit).

I also look at the placement of bus stops compared to the area and the distance between them. This is due to some areas where buses do travel but there is a lack of bus stops or where there are 1/4, 1/2 or 1 mile between bus stops, between a traffic light and the bus stop or the bus stop and building entrances if there are only a few buildings in a area where people would be taking the bus to/from.

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 4:03 pm • linkreport

and where a bus crosses another bus or where a bus stops at for a metrorail station or metrorail station elevator if located blocks away or can not be seen for the bus stop or metrorail station entrance (Bethesda)

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 4:05 pm • linkreport

Tolling is interesting because we don't have a natural border with Maryland so any attempt to toll bridges is going to end up like we are trying to stick it to Virginia mostly. If they were going to do so it would have to be a nominal amount say $2 round trip and not something that would create a perverse incentive for people to drive around the beltway/cut through side streets to avoid it.

by BTA on Jun 2, 2014 4:06 pm • linkreport

4 to 5 blocks? So 4 tenths of a mile?

The part of downtown that is that far away from Metro is basically south of E st, West of 16th.

Sure, there is a chunk that is not very Metro accessible. But you described a huge swath of downtown, much of which is only a block or two from a Metro stop.

by MLD on Jun 2, 2014 4:16 pm • linkreport

What I count as transit accessible is about 4 to 5 average blocks(not those super long blocks we have in some parts of DC) not including crossing highways, bridges, very steep hills etc and is able to be traversed by an elderly or disabled person (I believe in equal service for all when it comes to public transit).

Ok, so that counts most of the areas you described. Which can certainly be improved, but needs money to pay for the improvements, which we can get by charging people choosing to drive to DC when they have SEVERAL options to get to the same place without a car. That's a win/win.

by drumz on Jun 2, 2014 4:25 pm • linkreport

@ BTA

Couldnt they place a toll on streets that are the major route to Maryland in some areas. For example they could just toll
1 Connecticut Ave at Chevy Chase Circle
2 Mass Ave at Westmoreland Circle
3 Daleclarlia Parkway
4 MacArthur Blvd after Norton Street
5 Broad Branch Rd
6 16th Street & Eastern Ave at Colesville Rd
7 Primrose Rd
8 Eastern Ave & Blair Rd
9 Eastern Ave & Piney Branch Rd
10 Eastern Ave between Varnum Street & Queens Chapel Rd
11 Ft Lincoln Drive but that probably wouldnt work with the new shopping center
12 New York Ave between Bladensburg Rd and the DC/MD border but with with an upgrade to V Street NE.
13 Ft Davis Drive SE
14 Bowen Rd & Southern Ave
15 East Capitol & Southern Ave
16 Sheriff Rd, Division Ave & Southern Ave
17 Wheeler Rd & Southern Ave
18 South Capitol St, Indian Head Hwy & Southern Ave

If you tolled most of the intersections I listed drivers would have to pay unless they want to drive around neighbourhoods for about a 10-15 minute detour; many of the nearby streets end at those streets so they would be forced onto the road and get tolled.

All parts of 295,395 & 695 except when crossing the Anacostia since there is a lack of bridges crossing the river

This would be kind of hard but toll the underpasses of North Capitol & South Capitol Street so that people who are actually going to the surrounding areas don't get tolled but those just passing through do.

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 4:34 pm • linkreport

Love the toll list.

This idea is deader than the fossils at the Natural History Museum.

by kob on Jun 2, 2014 4:40 pm • linkreport

@ MLD

"4 to 5 blocks? So 4 tenths of a mile?
The part of downtown that is that far away from Metro is basically south of E st, West of 16th.

Sure, there is a chunk that is not very Metro accessible. But you described a huge swath of downtown, much of which is only a block or two from a Metro stop."

This all depends on the block length blocks are not uniform in DC; some streets have blocks that are two or 3 times the length of other blocks and others have barricades which I also count but most yes you are correct.

However mostly yes but with also counting the distance between the Metrorail Station (escalators)or the bus stop (exact space on the grass or sidewalk)

I would be counting the distance of bus routes that operate all day not rush hour only or early morning/late night and metrorail entrances that are open all the time metrorail is open so no weekday only entrances.

I thought about the issue of Holidays and Weekends also but people since people work and do not work on holidays and weekends I left that along as that would be a economic/social class and stratification issue.

Though before an actual phase in I would test the distances with a elderly person, blind person, able bodied person and a person in wheelchair which does not seem to happen in this area when it comes to designing stuff.

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 4:54 pm • linkreport

kk,

Those are all good points. But I don't think those facts add up to a congestion charge being more harmful than beneficial, especially to those populations.

It's unfortunate that it was designed poorly at first, but that shouldn't hold us back because otherwise we'll be stuck with a chicken/egg problem.

Though before an actual phase in I would test the distances with a elderly person, blind person, able bodied person and a person in wheelchair which does not seem to happen in this area when it comes to designing stuff.

For all of its problems and challenges, we do have para-transit precisely for those populations that can provide door-to-door service.

by drumz on Jun 2, 2014 5:01 pm • linkreport

Falls Church,

So, if you live in the downtown cordon zone, does that mean you can't leave your home in a car without paying a congestion charge/toll? That would suck for reverse commuters and their guests.

I thought Londoners who live in the zone were SOL but apparently they get a 90% discount on one vehicle. That also seems reasonable.

Also, worth noting that since the US embassy refuses to pay the congestion charge in London, zippy chance any embassy pays it in DC.

Oh totally, but that's already the norm with a number of traffic infractions already (parking tickets and such). Also, I've read that the US embassy will basically pay a lump settlement to London for all of the various tickets that they accrue each year.

by drumz on Jun 2, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

@ drumz

Not everybody can qualify I'm thinking about those that are just outside of the limits of para-transit.

Door to Door service is not always needed but walking 5 or 6 blocks should not be the norm especially in the city

Personally I would rearrange the routes so that no intersection is more than 3.5 blocks from a bus stop and buses travel every three streets instead of all buses on one street and then no streets with buses for the next 5,6 or 7 blocks which typically happens in DC or basically I would follow a grid for bus routes

by kk on Jun 2, 2014 5:36 pm • linkreport

Cool, I don't have a problem with that and want to see it. Which is why I think a congestion charge is a good idea. It provides the money to help pay for it.

by Drumz on Jun 2, 2014 6:22 pm • linkreport

What would be the purpose of making the roads "managed lanes?"

by selxic on Jun 2, 2014 8:11 pm • linkreport

kk

The problem is, there are enough routes into DC without using the main arteries, that most drivers would just use those residential streets and leave the tolling to the tourists.

by Andrew on Jun 2, 2014 8:50 pm • linkreport

For bike routes, they don't mark the CCT, but do mark Canal Road as a bike route.

I'm not reading it that way. I think they have the CCT and C&O on the map. With the Palisades Trail as a dotted line.

by David C on Jun 2, 2014 9:13 pm • linkreport

MD and VA will not allow commuter tolling, however much it makes sense, is reasonable and needed.

Well, they are not the deciding authority in DC and actually won't have much of a say. USDOT will make that call and it seems a little more willing to allow cities to experiment with this. They gave NYC a waiver to allow them to try it and USDOT is actively promoting congestion tolling. Congress would need to pass a law to stop USDOT from allowing it. Congress can't pass anything, and so betting on them to do something is going to disappoint. I give DC an 90% chance of getting approval from USDOT.

And MD and VA might be willing to go along with the toll since they should benefit. Some of the money goes toward making it easier to get into and out of the city, like better bike and transit connections, and it should reduce congestion in MD and VA too. Plus air quality improvements that they benefit from.

But in the end, we won't know until we try.

Then, why not tax downtown parking garages even more rather than tolling every single vehicle that passes through the zone?

The problem isn't too many cars parking, it's too many cars driving. And since many drivers get free parking, it would not be applied fairly.

Tolls hurt the poor much more than the wealthy, and that's something we should avoid.

Not if the toll revenue is used to subsidize and expand transit.

Also labeled as high priority are a separated bike trail on NY ave NE?? Sounds awesome but I have trouble picturing it.

On the north side, between NY Avenue and the railroad tracks.

I see that a Massachusetts Ave. bridge over the Anacostia River is proposed. Good or bad?

That goes back to the AWI plan. It would be a bike/ped and possibly NPS vehicle bridge. It's a good idea. It would combine with some other new connections to create a bunch of new routes across and around the river area. And it would make Mass Avenue the only road that goes from Western Ave to Southern Avenue without break - even if you can't drive the whole thing.

by David C on Jun 2, 2014 9:53 pm • linkreport

I think it was a VERY poor decision on the part of the council to reduce funding for the streetcar project when it has been proven that the systems in other cities have cause great revitalization of neighborhoods and brought business and revenue into the city. I how do they plan to extend the streetcar system and at the same time reduce funding? This makes no sense.

by Walter Jackson on Jun 3, 2014 8:08 am • linkreport

"The congestion charge will hurt too many low-income people!"

Low-income people are more likely to take transit and less likely to drive alone to work. They will benefit the most from improved transit paid for by a congestion charge.

Of people who work in DC and make under $25,000 a year, 34% drive alone to work compared to 46% of those making over $50,000 a year.

by MLD on Jun 3, 2014 8:31 am • linkreport

Congestion pricing is no more regressive than pricing ANY good or service.

Why would you say that? Isn't it more accurate to say that pricing things with high income elasticity is progressive, while pricing things with low income elacticity is regressive?

A different comment emphasized that congestion is a waste. While that sounds about right, do we know that congestion is a greater waste than the waste caused by congestion pricing? After all, people choose to wait in congestion today rather than the alternative. If it takes a $10 fee to induce someone to not join the congestion, might that mean that they were bothered less by congestion than by payng $10, but with the fee they do something that bothers them less than $10 but more than waiting in congestion?

Since there is still new construction occuring in the congestion zone, and the new zoning code would allow parking free buildings there, that space could (structural engineering allowing) be repurposed, thus limiting landowner losses, and providing a benefit from increased supply of space to other uses.

That is true. But we don't really know to what extent that will happen. Here is a scenario where that might be negligible: If demand for parking escaletes to that the $12/day fee that seems common becomes $25--and then we get a $10 congestion fee. That fee should not cause demand to shift back by more than $10, so even with the fee falling entirely on the parking lots, their market price is back to $15. If they had an alernative use at $15, they could shut down the parking building now.

by JimT on Jun 3, 2014 8:34 am • linkreport

A congestion pricing scheme is regressive if - and ONLY if - there is no alternative in place. There's no denying that the rural poor who have been priced out of the city are directly harmed by a congestion pricing scheme if transit access for them is not improved - because they will have no other choice but to pay the toll.

So the real question here is going to be how much of the carrot (improved Metro, expanded bus operations, exclusive transit rights of way) goes into place before the stick is implemented.

If we are going to implement congestion pricing, it should be paired with expansion of parking facilities at the outer Metro stations in order to accommodate those drivers who will park outside of the congestion zone and take transit the rest of the way - which is something we absolutely should be encouraging.

by Ryan on Jun 3, 2014 8:45 am • linkreport

After a particularly shitty evening yesterday where my attempt to ride home was interrupted countless times by peds, drivers, and other cyclists, including nearly hitting a cabbie who pulled out right in front of me, I'm fairly convinced the DC area is a cesspool of idiots and no amount of separated facilities for bikes and peds and transit will fix our problems without a sea change in attitudes by all. So this is a great plan; but it will fail just due to general stupidity and selfishness. Maybe I'm being a cynic.

by RDHD on Jun 3, 2014 9:00 am • linkreport

Whereas my commute went up Mass Ave, where an event at the Italian embassy literally stopped auto traffic westbound for over a mile.

I sailed through. Ciao!

by Crickey7 on Jun 3, 2014 9:10 am • linkreport

@Crickey7, I hit that too. But no matter how many times you say "excuse me" or "passing left" or whatever, peds still stand there right in your way not being the least bit aware (or polite?). I was *not* in a good mood by that point.

by RDHD on Jun 3, 2014 9:16 am • linkreport

Why would you say that? Isn't it more accurate to say that pricing things with high income elasticity is progressive, while pricing things with low income elacticity is regressive?" </>

The general use of progressive and regressive is for taxes. I suppose one could say that charging for canned beans, as opposed to giving them out free to anyone who wants them, is "more regressive" than charging for champagne. I would suggest that this is distorting the discussion. But if I were to accept that distortion, the equation of charging for a scarce good with paying a tax, I would have to modify my statement to say "charging for congestion is no more regressive than many goods and services" I also think that the income elasticity of congestion is not at all clear. While the first order estimate is that the value of time in traffic should vary with wages, its also the case that many lower income people have more rigid work schedules than higher income people. A number of studies on priced roads have, IIUC, debunked the notion that they are Lexus lanes.

A different comment emphasized that congestion is a waste. While that sounds about right, do we know that congestion is a greater waste than the waste caused by congestion pricing? After all, people choose to wait in congestion today rather than the alternative. If it takes a $10 fee to induce someone to not join the congestion, might that mean that they were bothered less by congestion than by payng $10, but with the fee they do something that bothers them less than $10 but more than waiting in congestion?

It means that the value of their time to themselves is worth less than $10. But that does not mean the congestion is not wasteful, because it ignores the impact of their driving on OTHER drivers. Its the "tragedy of the commons". Also I would note that the $10 is not lost, but is a transfer, that can be used by the govt. Its a pretty basic economic analysis to show that not charging for a scarce good is wasteful. And its pretty clear in the transportation world, that by reducing congestion in exchange for a transfer of cash from those who continue to drive to the govt, is a net improvement.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2014 9:20 am • linkreport

I stayed on the road, but I can see how the crush on the sidewalk might have been upsetting. I'd have been more upset were I a driver. This happens every single time there is an event at the Italian Embassy. Which, BTW, is a really fabulous place for an event.

by Crickey7 on Jun 3, 2014 9:28 am • linkreport

Congress would need to pass a law to stop USDOT from allowing it. Congress can't pass anything, and so betting on them to do something is going to disappoint. I give DC an 90% chance of getting approval from USDOT.

While it's kind of pointless to handicap USDOT approval, the above is not how it works. Congress doesn't need to pass a law. All they need to do is ask USDOT not to do it and I'll say there's a 99% chance that USDOT will not choose to pick a fight with Congress over this issue, if enough members of Congress make it an issue.

The way politics works is that you don't want to make enemies with powerful people/institutions unnecessarily. There are a lot of ways Congress can help or hurt USDOT's agenda in ways other than passing laws. There's no need to piss off people like Steny Hoyer, Eric Cantor, Gerry Connolly, and Mark Warner (and/or their staffers) over an issue that's fairly trivial for USDOT. I doubt Anthony Foxx wants to waste any of his time defending DC's position on this issue.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

Which is why breaking up any solid suburban front is important. Given that many commuters from NoVa use transit, and more will by the time this idea ripens more fully, dedicating some of the revenues to projects (like the loop line) that will aid Va commuters could go a long way to softening opposition.

Re parking taxes

My understanding is that DC currently charges a 12% tax on commercial parking. That is the same anywhere in the city. There is currently no surcharge for lots located downtown. Is there discussion of that? I note that while it does not address the entire problem, it would gradually shift the political frame - as there is less and less parking downtown (because of the zoning code change, and any parking surcharge) there will be fewer suburbanites with a stake in opposing a congestion charge (and conceivably a congestion charge could then be tied in with lowering or eliminating the parking surcharge)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2014 10:56 am • linkreport

All they need to do is ask USDOT not to do it and I'll say there's a 99% chance that USDOT will not choose to pick a fight with Congress over this issue

Because the Obama administration really loves doing what Congress tells them to do?

If this is such an issue, then why didn't suburban NYC congress members shut down NYC's permit? CT, NJ even upstate NY members had equal reasons to oppose this no?

by David C on Jun 3, 2014 11:34 am • linkreport

I made a quick and dirty overlay of the proposed congestion toll zone and a 0.4 mi walk-shed from metro stops. Department of State, the area between State and the White House, and the grounds north of the Capitol are the "losers" here.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5217334/CBD%20vs%20metro.png

by speaketh on Jun 3, 2014 12:34 pm • linkreport

Are there revenue estimates for the tolls? And if so, is the $$$ enough to fund a lot of this plan?

by Rob on Jun 3, 2014 12:55 pm • linkreport

@Crickey7: you're a better cyclist than me. My fat ass can't get up Mass Ave at more than, say 8 mph. In my defense, I'm a good 5 miles into my ride home. :)

by RDHD on Jun 3, 2014 1:06 pm • linkreport

Because the Obama administration really loves doing what Congress tells them to do?

If this is such an issue, then why didn't suburban NYC congress members shut down NYC's permit?

No one likes doing anything anyone tells them but you have to pick your fights. This issue means a lot more to suburban MD/VA Congress members than it does to Obama. It barely would register on his or his admin's agenda. He's not going to do everything Congress asks of him but he's not going to nothing either, especially when the request is coming from within his party. Nor would Foxx want to jeopardize his budding political career by pissing off the party elders.

NYC has many members of Congress, some of whom are extremely powerful such as Rangel who chairs Ways and Means. Chuck Schumer is also an ally for NYC and he lives in Brooklyn. Furthermore, NYC is part of NY state, and what's good for NYC is to some extent good for NY state. Finally, NYC is not a federal city and national opinion is going to be different about letting them do as they please vs. letting DC do as it pleases. One other point - most of the people commuting to Manhattan come from within NYC, so much of the toll money is coming from city residents. Most of DC's commuters come from MD/VA.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

Furthermore, NYC is part of NY state, and what's good for NYC is to some extent good for NY state.

The NY State legislature voted against allowing NYC to do congestion charging, which is why it didn't happen. So, that's not necessarily how they see it.

There are a lot of people's who's actions are being predicted here.

1. MD and VA delegations will oppose this. Dubious claim at best.
2. Congress will pressure USDOT to not allow a waiver because those delegations oppose it.
3. USDOT will cave to Congressional pressure.

I'm not saying that's impossible, but it certainly requires more supposition of things no one knows then claiming USDOT will allow DC to do congestion charging, since, AFAIK they have never denied it to any city that asked.

by David C on Jun 3, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

The NY State legislature voted against allowing NYC to do congestion charging, which is why it didn't happen.

Ok, I guess you're right. The same type of suburban opposition that would kill it in the DC area successfully killed it in the NYC area. That said, NY State had a lot more reason to like the congestion charge than MD/VA have for DC. If a congestion charge was going to happen anywhere, politically, it would have been easiest in NYC and it didn't even happen there.

1. MD and VA delegations will oppose this. Dubious claim at best.

They've opposed commuter taxes in the past. A congestion charge could be seen as a form of commuter tax. But, maybe it won't be and maybe MD/VA congressional constituents won't care enough to make it a big deal with their members of Congress. We'll see.

2. Congress will pressure USDOT to not allow a waiver because those delegations oppose it.

I don't think anyone in Congress cares about this issue other than MD/VA members. But, they are powerful enough by themselves to matter because there's no one in Congress taking the other side of the issue. Senators and Reps are far more powerful than a peon like the head of USDOT and Obama has a thousand higher priorities in the transportation arena alone than what happens in DC.

I'm not saying that's impossible, but it certainly requires more supposition of things no one knows then claiming USDOT will allow DC to do congestion charging, since, AFAIK they have never denied it to any city that asked.

USDOT has no justifiable reason to deny it to any other city. It's a local city issue and I don't think anyone thinks the federal government should be micromanaging traffic patterns in local areas. But, DC is different because it's been shown countless times that micromanaging the city's affairs is popular and something people think is a responsibility of the Feds. The Republicans love the idea of micromanaging DC and the MD/VA Democrats have their constituents to think of.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

Probably overly simple, Rob, but according to the latest MWCOG projections, 2015 employment in the city is forecast at 823,000. I dunno where to find information on inflows but I don't think half a million out of state residents working in the city is unreasonable. DC residents modeshare is 50% driving alone /50% other which is higher than any other jurisdiction so a very conservative estimate would be about 250,000 cars a day and say its constant as people switch to other modes even as total employment goes up. On top of that you do have some people reverse commuting out of DC every day but I think it would be a considerably smaller number. Assuming $4 a day for tolls, thats 1 million a day or about $250 million a year before costs or maybe $5 billion over 20 years. Obviously not going to pay for the full system but it could pay for a lot and put a good dent in the rail portion.

by BTA on Jun 3, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

If a congestion charge was going to happen anywhere, politically, it would have been easiest in NYC and it didn't even happen there.

I think DC is easier. Since what is needed is approval of DC govt and USDOT. In New York it is NYC govt, USDOT and NY State. That's 50% more hoops.

I don't think anyone in Congress cares about this issue other than MD/VA members.

Earl Blumenauer will. And so will any urban congress member who thinks that congestion charging would be good for their home district. Having this tried somewhere else will be good for them.

by David C on Jun 3, 2014 2:39 pm • linkreport

I don't think anyone in Congress cares about this issue other than MD/VA members.

Earl Blumenauer will.

If Earl Blumenaur wants it for his home district or anything else while he's in Congress, I suggest he not tick off Steny Hoyer. Maybe Hoyer won't care about this issue but if he does (because his constituents do), it would be foolish to make enemies with the second most powerful Dem in the House. That goes for every other Dem in Congress.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2014 2:52 pm • linkreport

Also I would note that the $10 is not lost, but is a transfer, that can be used by the govt. Its a pretty basic economic analysis to show that not charging for a scarce good is wasteful. And its pretty clear in the transportation world, that by reducing congestion in exchange for a transfer of cash from those who continue to drive to the govt, is a net improvement.

I agree that if everybody pays the congestion charge and roads just stay congested, then there is just a transfer. But assuming the $10 induces someone to avoid the charge by doing something other than sitting in traffic, then whatever that is, it must be less preferable than sitting in traffic to the person who changes behavior or they would do so without the charge. That's what I mean by the waste induced by the congestion charge.

Of course the benefits to other people may exceed the costs to the person who is priced off the road. It depends on how much they were hurt by the congestion. If the mass transit route is alot slower than the congested highway (which is true for many people going east in the afternoon), and you mainly are putting people on crowded trains, then benefits of reducing congestion on the roads alone may be small. E.g. east into PG county.

Now if you want to apply the fee to all forms of congestion (e.g. crowded trains as well) then whether or not this applies depends on the cost of time shifting or moving.

I agree with your points about lowering parking taxes, which is not inconsistent with the hypothesis that the market may tend to lower the market price.

by JimT on Jun 3, 2014 3:03 pm • linkreport

"It depends on how much they were hurt by the congestion."

Thats why you set the congestion charge to match the external impact of that vehicle on congestion. If you set the charge too high. you will reduce overall "utility". See for example the Dulles Greenway (but thats not a charge set by govt to reduce congestion, its a monopolist maximizing rent) where the toll is so high that the road is seriously underutilized.

It may be that the suggested $3 is too high a charge. I have not seen any detailed economic analysis behind it, so I'm not sure.

But its pretty clear to me that zero is too low.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2014 3:10 pm • linkreport

So this prediction is now based on what every single member of Congress will do, which is either protest, not care or care but not lift a finger in support out of fear?

What about Nancy Pelosi. What if she supports it? She represents an urban district. Will Steny Hoyer risk making enemies with the most powerful Democrat in the House?

Again, I think people who are supposing that they know that Congress will stop this are showing a little too much confidence in their ability to predict future events.

by David C on Jun 3, 2014 3:12 pm • linkreport

But assuming the $10 induces someone to avoid the charge by doing something other than sitting in traffic, then whatever that is, it must be less preferable than sitting in traffic to the person who changes behavior or they would do so without the charge.

Not if the charge revenue enables you to improve other options so that they are now preferable to sitting in traffic.

But yes, there are probably other ways you could achieve mode shift, like dedicating lanes to transit so that it is more competitive with SOV, etc.

by MLD on Jun 3, 2014 3:12 pm • linkreport

MLD

its definitely possible to have a congestion charge thats too high and thus fails a cost benefit test. Lets do a thought experiment - imagine a $1000 per vehicle congestion charge. Now folks would avoid all auto trips to DC, even ones that would have been optimally made by auto even considering the congestion externality (of course at that point there would be no more congestion.) It would be the wrong "answer" just as the current zero charge is wrong.

Thats why there is a body of literature on optimal congestion prices, to help us get the price right.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2014 3:18 pm • linkreport

Jim T

We already do charge for riding metro rail. Its almost certainly too a high a price to be optimal for most lines, at most times, because the lines aren't congested (although I guess we could get into a discussion of the value of standing vs sitting). Its probably too low on a few line (like the orange crush and I guess the red line) at the peak of the peak. WMATA tried peak of the peak pricing, but IIRC found it too be too complex to be worth the benefit.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2014 3:21 pm • linkreport

How convenient, that in the last map, the purple-shaded area seems to include the Library of Congress, but it EXEMPTS the 6 blocks immediately South, which have always been free parking lots for Congressional staff (as described in another detailed article here, a week ago). Business as usual. I wish someone for once, would make those spoiled, Congressional staffers pay like everyone else.

by slowlane on Jun 3, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

Build it.

by NE John on Jun 3, 2014 8:05 pm • linkreport

Anything to keep suburban vehicles out of the city is a good thing. They destroy our roads and pay no local taxes. Pay the toll or back up!

by NE John on Jun 3, 2014 8:08 pm • linkreport

What's the purpose and goal of managed lanes?

by selxic on Jun 4, 2014 7:42 am • linkreport

To manage the congestion that's coming in. Think of 66 inside the beltway. It's all HOV which helps the road be less congested than it would be otherwise.

Managed just means the options are open, it could be HOV, tolled, a combo, or something else.

by drumz on Jun 4, 2014 8:14 am • linkreport

Aren't those HOV lanes still congested, drumz?

by selxic on Jun 5, 2014 4:52 pm • linkreport

Sure, but would congestion go down by having more cars?

by drumz on Jun 5, 2014 4:55 pm • linkreport

I agree that there are errors with the maps' depictions of existing bike lanes/trails. I also agree that a trail bridge linking Massachusetts across the river would be useful to many.

by The Truth™ on Jun 8, 2014 9:22 pm • linkreport

A Massachusetts Avenue Bridge- 4 vehicular lane boulevard with sidewalks and bikelanes is way overdue.

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2013/08/washington-dc-war-on-people-shuns-east.html

That it remains unbuilt speaks volumes about the dynamics that we the people have allowed a few to get over upon society at large.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Oct 22, 2014 8:24 pm • linkreport

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