Correspondent Conrad referred me to this interesting newspaper account of an academic report on Sydney’s traffic woes. The suggestion is that, without congestion pricing, Sydney would need to construct the equivalent of 14 Lane Cove tunnels annually just to stabilise traffic congestion at current levels.
These claims seem a bit exaggerated. Crippling congestion will itself discourage travel. But the essential message is correct. Pricing travel at zero and then trying to accommodate the resulting excess demands with infrastructure investments is dumb policy. I lived in Bangkok for most of the 1980s – believe me, living in a city with hypercongestion imposes huge costs on your everyday life - getting to work, going out to dinner etc.
The moronic comments of Roads Minister Roozendaal are worth noting. He dismissed the findings as "armchair advice from academics in ivory towers". "We need commonsense solutions," he said. How pathetic.
I think what we really need as some politicians with guts and foresight.
Useful background to the report is here. Note the authors endorse a package of policies for Sydney and certainly do not rely on congestion pricing alone.