The idea that Los Angeles should tax drivers to enter certain neighborhoods got a boost Thursday as a group of local governments unveiled a study suggesting a $4 fee would help reduce congestion and speed commutes on the city’s west side around Santa Monica.
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) also called for a pilot program to establish Mobility Go Zones that would combine congestion pricing, pedestrian-friendly street design and better transit to help reduce traffic and air pollution.
The organization said such steps could raise more than $69 million a year and cut traffic time by as much as 24 percent during peak travel periods. At the same time, transit ridership, cycling and pedestrian traffic would increase. In January, L.A. Metro officials signaled interest in tolling vehicles to enter certain neighborhoods or business districts.
“Congestion is one of the biggest challenges we face as a region,” SCAG President Alan D. Wapner said in a written statement. “And while there has been a lot of talk about congestion pricing as a solution, this study puts some real numbers to it.”
Citing an official who oversaw the study, the Los Angeles Times reported that researchers considered a congestion fee of $6 to $8 but reduced the amount to $4 after focus groups objected. The official said the sum was “just enough of a nudge to see sizable benefits.”
SCAG’s pitch for congestion pricing was rolled out just days after New York lawmakers reached consensus on a plan to toll vehicular traffic in New York City. The New York Times reported that state lawmakers had not worked out all of the details but agreed this week to set up electronic tolling in the city’s business district. Under the tentative plan, proceeds would help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority make repairs to the subway system.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has called for changes to make the nation’s capital safer and more pedestrian friendly, including the implementation of congestion pricing.
SCAG, which represents six counties and 191 cities in Southern California, said research shows that Los Angeles drivers spend about 128 hours a year in traffic. Setting up Mobility Go Zones would reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled by 21 percent and the number of hours spent driving by 24 percent during peak rush hour, the study found.