Taxes Matter III


A recent Wall Street Journal Article, “Stockholm’s Syndrom,” (August 29, 2006, page B1, unavailable without subscription), chronicled Stockholm’s efforts to manage car traffic using variable tolls based on the time of travel. Not surpringly, commuters changed their travel patterns.

The idea of managing traffic with variable tolls has been around since the 1950s. Of course, the technology to effectively implement the idea has lagged. Now with electronic tolls, such as Maine’s EZ-PASS, the technological obstacles are no longer the problem.
Stockholm began a six month trial of variable tolls to reduce commuter traffic. The results from the trial are in:
“During the Stockholm trial, the city collected data on how the system affected air quality, parking and bus ridership. The results showed that traffic pasing over the cordon decreased 22%, while traffic accidents involving injuries fell by 5% to 10%. Exhaust emissions, including carbon dioxide and particles, decreased by 14% in the inner city and by 2% to 3% in Stockholm County . . . communters’ use of all forms of public transportation jumped 6% and ridership of inner-city bus routes rose 9%, compared with a year earlier.”