Washington DC’s famous — or should I say infamous? — ex-mayor and Council Member Marion Barry proposed a plan this Tuesday to explore the possibility of implementing a congestion pricing scheme for the Capitol. So far Mayor Fenty has equivocated, saying that London-style congestion pricing is a “good idea,” but that its not time to rush into things. “It’s something that we would have to study, but we are very adamant about letting the public know that this plan is not even close to being a proposal,” he told the Washington Post.
Why congestion pricing? “We have at least 400,000 commuters coming to the District every day and at least 200,000 cars coming into the city, beating up our city, polluting our air, using our police and fire services when necessary, and not paying a nickel,” Barry told the Post, referring to commuters from Virginia and Maryland who pour into the city during rush hour and leave at the end of the day. Almost all of these commuters do not pay DC taxes.
Because Congress and the courts have made a commuter tax unconstitutional, a congestion pricing scheme may be one way to reduce congestion in the region and raise money for alternative modes of transport like bicycles, rail, and buses.