No traffic for the rich

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Sf Examiner file photo

The more libertarian elements of the Bay Area have been complaining for years about carpool lanes on the freeways. If everyone's stuck in traffic, and those lanes are open, why can't everyone use them -- and cut back on congestion?

Now, heeding those complaints (and moving in the fast lane toward privatization of the highway system), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is moving to allow single-occupant vehicles to use the carpool lanes -- for a price.

So the people who can afford to spent ten bucks extra a day can save time, too -- and everyone else has to sit in traffic. A couple of problems with this scenario.

For one thing, the idea that moving more cars to the carpool lane will ease congestion on the rest of the road has no basis in fact or reality. Freeways are like jails -- the more you build, the faster they fill up. Double the size of I-80 and soon it will still be as crowded. Build another Bay Bridge and it will be choked with cars in a year. That's been the entire experience of American highway construction since World War II.

An open freeway encourages people to drive. When the price of waiting in traffic gets high enough, people either use transit or ... carpool.

Which is the point of the carpool lanes. If a couple of people leave their cars at home, freeing up space for everyone else and in the process cutting down on fossil-fuel emissions, then they get to ride in a less-crowded lane. The carpool lanes are supposed to be more empty; that's the idea.

Then there's this notion of first-class and second-class highway travel.

In a perfect world, people whose time is worth more money would sacrifice cash to get where they're going, and by sitting in traffic for half an hour less would earn tha extra money back at work, and all would even out. But even the most academic-minded economists know that's not how the real world works. (Of course, in a perfect world we'd have such fast, cheap and effective transit systems that nobody would drive around the Bay Area at all.)

No: What will really happen is that wealthier people who want to go shopping or out to dinner or whatever and drive without sitting in traffic will get to do that, and poorer people will lose even more of their time to the commute, which they can't afford to do anyway, and the level of economic inequality in the Bay Area will get worse. So will the air quality.

Brilliant idea.

Comments

pricing mechanism?

And you must hate first class cabins on planes even tho that makes flying cheaper for the rest of us?

And you must hate toll roads which allow for faster travel in return for a fee?

That's a lot to hate.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

No Tim hates loser trolls who have nothing better to do with their time than hang out 24/7 on a progressive site and take potshots at the writers. Get a life, Troll

Posted by And the rich make out like bandits on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

"I cannot refute you and so, like all SF progressives, I will instead abuse you for having the audacity to disagree with the progressive manifesto.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

but this is bad? Both encourage driving which is the ultimate evil really according to the SFBG.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

He's too driven by hatred and envy to ever consider consistency.

After all, isn't consistency the hobgoblin of small minds?

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

Hobgoblin? You mischievous duck, no one and I mean no one outside of the club blabs like that anymore, I declare you puckish gnome. Heavens!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 4:54 am

Where only the rich can go north of 18th street in their cars.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

"What will really happen is that wealthier people who want to go shopping or out to dinner or whatever and drive without sitting in traffic will get to do that, and poorer people will lose even more of their time to the commute, which they can't afford to do anyway, and the level of economic inequality in the Bay Area will get worse."

That's probably true. Usage or demand-based pricing models usually magnify income disparities. That's not to say they may not be a good long-term model but the shift from subsidized roads to usage or demand based roads would be painful for people at lower incomes who depend on heavy road usage.

Posted by kayvaan on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

people? Should we make the bridges free so that no poor person is ever disadvantaged by having to pay a higher proportion of his income to crossing the Bay?

Where do you ever know where to stop with that line of thinking? Should apples cost more if you are rich?

There's a reason why Americans like money, and it is that it gives you a thousand and one ways of having a better life, whether that be better healthcare, a better education, better entertainment and less hassles.

If that were not true, who would work? We could be just like Europeans, where not working is a "lifestyle choice" rather than an economci necessaity.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

Realistically, as government has been starved at higher levels, such taxes have been going nowhere but up. That's a regressive trend.

I like the idea of colored stickers on windshields -- such as they use in many states to prove registration status -- to identify each vehicle's tax status. I'm thinking three to five brackets.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

We could, like, ask to see a 1040 before serving a Big Mac, and charge accordingly.

Wow, you're so smart.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

Anon,

You seem to have a real problem with rudeness in your interactions with others, and you keep insisting on 'facts' that have no basis in the world inhabited by the rest of us. That, coupled with the fact that you apparently spend all of your time in front of the computer trolling others, suggests a person with very little understanding of the world around them. Do you suffer from some kind of personality disorder or other mental defect that makes you so compulsively nasty and out of touch?

Oh, and Big Macs aren't a necessary prerequisite to participation in American society in the way that cars/travel are. Big Macs are a luxury item, and McDonal's can charge whatever they want for them. Roads are a common good and a public necessity--no one should have to shoulder a larger *effective* burden than anyone else for their use. Big Macs are a personal choice.

Where do your ideas even come from? I remember Smith saying something about 'universal opulence' all those years ago, and I'm pretty sure that implies equal access to the materials that make life possible--universally. No one wants to live in your Ayn Rand fantasy land where people's values are measured solely in dollars and their propensity to sociopathy. Individuals are worth more than their ability/inability to succeed in this corrupt and broken system.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

I believe that at least one Scandinavian nation issues auto tickets based either on the value of the vehicle or on the income of the driver.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

And for a fine, that can make sense.

But you have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise we would all have to carry out 1040 around with us, in order for the barman to determine the cost of our beer.

And of course, if everything were related to income, then there would be no advantage to earning more, and the incentive to study and work hard would vanish.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

"And of course, if everything were related to income, then there would be no advantage to earning more, and the incentive to study and work hard would vanish."

But that, of course, is the point.

We could all be just like lilli.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

And then trying to enshrine inequality into the system by demanding the rich pay more for things they use in the same amounts as the poor - like bridges? Why should wealthier people pay a higher rate to use the same bridge in the same way as a poor person? Infrastructure benefits everyone equally - wealthier people do not get more use out of a bridge or a road necessarily - a user tax, which is what tolls are because only those who USE the road or bridge in question PAY the fee, is designed to tax on the basis of USE.

There are so many paradoxes in attempting to understand this way of thinking that it becomes dizzying. "Impose a user fee on roads and bridges to cut driving!." "NO! Make wealthier drivers pay more by putting stickers on their car so everyone can see how much they make and charge them more!!"

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

the poor.

And if an initiatiuve will hurt the poor, but hurt the rich even more, Tim will always support it.

It's more about envy than it is about compassion.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

-- both for moving violations *and* public safety-related parking violations related to crosswalks, rush-hour tow away lanes, and bus zones -- there is a powerful argument to be made for graduated fines based on the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

But even if it did not, on what basis should items be charged on the basis of how much money you have? That implies means testing for everything,

Of course, given that you are poor, you should like that, but t hat is no basis for sound public policy

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

then (in smaller print) allows how "even if it's not true .... [blah], [blah], [semi-litterate, semi-coherent nonsense], [blah], [blah], [straw man argument]. [ad hominem][blah][blah]."

Notice?

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

How can you let another poster drive you to distraction?

Even if, as in this case, he is clearly and deomostrably smarter than you?

Surely you can see when you are getting your clock cleaned, and demur?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

A gold standard from lil' lilz 78-speed hit record from 1928.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

ITT old libertarian white men who think they're oh-so-witty because they have a thesaurus.

I don't see any discussion of equal punishments according to income, which is supported by the argument that the rich should experience everything in the way that the poor do--a wealthy person can ignore fines and recriminations that mean very little to their bottom line in a way that others cannot. Shouldn't their USE of a bridge or public space be regulated by
the same *effective* obstacles that the rest of us face? Or should they just get to be special, as everyone against Lil seems so eager to argue?

I also have a sneaking suspicion that guest and anon here are the same person. I honestly can't tell if these people are think tank shills or genuine ignoramuses anymore. Ugh.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 11:10 am

related to pay?

When are you leaving?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 11:44 am

Guess you left your thesaurus and pretensions of wittiness at home, and decided to opt for all-out troglodyte nativism? I suppose limited minds must make do with limited playbooks, at day's end.

As for leaving? No, sir or madam, I'm (really not) sorry, but that won't be happening. I popped out of a womb situated over this fortunate piece of geography just as arbitrarily as you did. Why should I leave to accomodate your ignorance and exceptionalism?

Is this really the best you can do?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

Commons refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. The resources held in common can include everything from natural resources and common land to software. The commons contains public property and private property, over which people have certain traditional rights. When commonly held property is transformed into private property this process alternatively is termed "enclosure" or more commonly, "privatization." A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others is called a commoner.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

And in practice almost everything is better if you have money. Even water, which is better at spa's or in high-priced bottled French water.

Much of the "privatization" that has happened globally over the last 40 years is simply the inevitable result of a backlash to the previous 40 years where governments seized private assets often without much compensation to the owners.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

If Tim wants to feel better, we can simply reframe the proposal:

#1 Since driving is bad and evil, we are going to charge ten bucks a day to use the freeway.

--Tim would unquestionably support this, since Tim thinks that private passenger cars are evil, and should be made to pay as much as possible. A huge freeway toll is just the ticket.

#2 Since carpooling is good, we will waive the ten dollar daily charge for carpools.

--Again, Tim would support this, since carpooling is good.

#3 Since we know that there are many poor, oppressed people in the Bay Area that can't afford to pay ten bucks a day, we will waive the ten dollar daily charge for people who drive in the non-carpool lanes.

--Again, Tim would support this, since Tim is always in favor of systems that charge the rich, but don't charge the poor.

See - Tim is now happy with all aspects of the proposal! It's just how you frame it!

Support free freeway travel for poor people! Charge only the rich!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

He knows the cause is doomed, not least because marcos keeps reminding him. But Tim needs his paycheck and - let's be honest here - he is unemployable except as a left-wing hack, and barely even that.

Thre standard of his pieces has gotten so low that he is almost a self-parody at this point and, as such, you're knocking down a target that is much too easy for good sport.

Prediction: in 12 months time, neither Tim nor Steven will work at SFBG, assuming even that it still exists then.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

It is ironic - since I don't think Tim would have any problem with charging **everyone** ten bucks a day to use the freeway, since that would discourage evil auto traffic, reduce the Bay Area's carbon footprint, yadda, yadda, yadda. (As noted above, I don't think Tim has ever objected to tolls on bridges, which hit rich and poor alike.)

Yet he objects to a proposal that lets you opt out of the charge by staying in the more congested lanes.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

Evidently, these trolls are too dumb to respond to the points in Tim's argument. They only know how to engage in personal attacks. Here's what they missed and have no good answer for:

"..the idea that moving more cars to the carpool lane will ease congestion on the rest of the road has no basis in fact or reality. Freeways are like jails -- the more you build, the faster they fill up. Double the size of I-80 and soon it will still be as crowded. Build another Bay Bridge and it will be choked with cars in a year. That's been the entire experience of American highway construction since World War II."

Posted by And the rich make out like bandits on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

If vehicles can freely change lane, then the total thruput is increased.

But if we segregate lanes by occupants, lane usage is sub-optimal.

Ideally we want each lane to be used equally, just like parking meters which now operate a similar scheme in SF.

This could help, while harming nobodu. Nut Tim hates the rich getting any breaks, even if they pay for it. What he realy want is a "rich only lane" which goes slower than the rest.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

no doubt conducts himself like a proper ass when on the roadways; similar to the behavior here.

Switching lanes has mixed effects on traffic flow depending on how it is done, but it should be appreciated that any time a car is switching lanes or about to switch lanes, it is effectively occupying the space of two cars.

Forcing people to jam on their brakes is uncool, anon.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

Can you dive? License?

You strike me more as a rent-controlled public transit guy with a beard, sandals and bad clothes.

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:13 pm
Wow

You strike me as a libertarian shill who gets paid to troll progressive sites with flimsy arguments and personal attacks on the authors of opposing views.

I don't know if Lil can dive, and I really don't see what that has to do with anything. In any case, it's painfully obvious that you know nothing about traffic or underwater recreation, and I would recommend that you study some history, buff up on economics, and turn on fucking spell check before you shove that foot even deeper down the sycophantic, Fox-News-parrot-hole that you call a throat.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

So strange that the left is always talking about what "the people" want, then when the people actually vote with their actions the progressives bitch and moan and try and find some way to manipulate the peasants. The progressives complain about non responsive or invasive government, and then progressives go out of their way to find ways to harass people going about their daily business.

All these professional academics and loudmouths who want to manipulate people into behaving correctly are great when they agree with progressives.

When along comes sit lie or cock bans they are shrieking about government power and manipulation.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

ever being put to a vote. I'd love to have a vote on that.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 8:35 am

Unfortunately, I think that the 14th amendment would work the other way, that one fine size has to fit all, which means zero deterrent for the wealthy who can pay fines out of pocket change.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 8:52 am

why are you opposed to that, I thought you progressives represented "the people(tm)."

If "the people" want something they should get it, right? Thats what you say when you claim to speak for them anyways.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

If the citizens are using all the cocaine, more cocaine should be produced?

Roads have a little more positive value than cocaine, but do you propose widening US-101 on the peninsula by tearing down the housing and businesses that abut the freeway? That would certainly reduce congestion in more ways - wider roads to move fewer people to fewer places! Win win win!

Perhaps a better analogy would be "If the citizens are drinking all the water there should be more rain!"

Posted by John Murphy on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 10:44 am

This is so wrong, on so many levels. It totally destroys the whole purpose of carpool lanes. What next? Private highways only for the rich? Well shit, if they're going to do that, they can at least pay for it and build it themselves. But of course that's the m.o. of the 1% -socialize the costs and reap all the profits.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

They are called toll roads.

Take the turnpike if you have cash and are in a rush.

Take the regular highway if you are poorer and in no rush.

And toll roads are paid for by revenue bonds.

Are you really this clueless, Greg?

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

In California, they are limited to the Southland.

Rich or poor, we end up in the same place no matter how many shiny pieces of metal you might have.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

bridges and tunnels almost everywhere. That is how they are funded.

Do they "favor the rich"?

Posted by anon on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

That's why I never liked them. And yes, I think the bridges should be paid for by progressive taxation. User fees are always regressive.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

He reeks of entitlement. So do I - but at least I have the cash to make good on it and don't demand everyone else pay for what I want. "I want a new bridge but everyone else should pay for it." That kind of crap gets real old, real fast - it's what Steven Jones constantly peddles.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

Greg is such a lazy parasite.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

Wants free shit and hates Asians. Hates "user fees" except when he doesn't approve of how something is being used, like parking spots - then he loves them. Babbles endlessly about the dangers of Asian voting power.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 25, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

In contrast to you, who said "blacks should be grateful to Europeans for their enslavement," I dare you to find one single quote of mine where I said anything remotely anti-Asian. For what it's worth, I've always opposed those MTA increases in parking fees and meter hours on the same grounds -regressive taxation. Libelous troll all around.

And marcos... WTF??? Are you being sarcastic, or are you being imped?

Posted by Greg on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 8:29 am

I've been in the car with you, I know.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 8:47 am