Congestion Pricing on the Westside and Beyond

Friday, May 17, 2019

Even as the Los Angeles area has invested billions of dollars in public transit, traffic congestion has only worsened, especially on the jobs-rich Westside. Now, Los Angeles officials are turning to a solution that economists and some planners have advocated for years: congestion pricing. Used in overseas cities including Singapore and London, congestion pricing has gotten a chilly reception in the United States. It is now getting serious consideration, though, and the Westside may turn out to be Ground Zero in the congestion pricing revolution -- for better or worse.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) recently released the first of many studies evaluating congestion pricing in a 4.3 square mile area of West LA and Santa Monica, just west of the 405 and north of the 10.  They found that it could significantly cut down traffic jams and commute times. $4 -- the price of a latte -- seems to be the right price to cut commute times by 20%.

For professionals commuting to Silicon Beach and Century City, that latte could be a smart investment. But for blue-collar workers who often travel the longest distances and make relatively little money, congestion pricing could be an undue burden, no matter how much it improves the commute.

Is congestion pricing a planner’s  fantasy or is it the real solution that LA—including the Westside—needs?

Kim Christensen, Land Use Chairperson, West of Westwood Homeowners Association
Michael Manville, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Tham Nguyen, Metro Office of Extraordinary Innovation
Asiyahola Sankara, Organizing & Outreach Program Manager, Act LA

Carter Rubin, Mobility and Climate Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council