New York politics failed to agree to introduce congestion taxes to deal with traffic congestion. But higher fuel prices are delivering desired outcomes anyway. This is true in New York and, of course, in all major cities along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Fuel tax increases to deal with congestion are generally ill-advised because they lead to drivers being penalised when they take non-congesting trips. But when urban dwellers take fewer private car journeys because of high fuel prices there is no such distortion.
It seems to me there are few downsides on the fuel-priced-induced traffic slowdown. And it does mean that with lower congestion, congestion tolls where they are levied, can be lower than they would otherwise be even if travel costs overall are not reduced. With private operators of facilities such as CityLink and EastLink in Melbourne this will not occur - charging here is based on cost-recovery not on ensuring travel efficiency. This is another reason for leaving the management of tolls in public hands and for redesigning the contracts State governments have with private operators. .