Ten Miles Square

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February 22, 2013 9:48 AM What We Can Learn From Toll Lanes

By Matthew Kahn

We know that there is a lot that we don’t know. This suggests that we should run more field experiments to pilot potentially good policy ideas. Today’s UCLA Daily Bruin offers some good news from Los Angeles.

“A new toll lane opening on the 10 Freeway, which runs east-west from Santa Monica through Los Angeles, could ease traffic for some UCLA commuters this weekend.
Starting Saturday, solo drivers will be able to use the carpool lane on the 14-mile stretch from Los Angeles Union Station to the 605 Freeway if they pay a fee anywhere from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile depending on congestion and time of day, according to Metro.”

Some UCLA Urban Planner will write a very nice paper studying the benefits of efficiently pricing public property. We will learn some good lessons about the Tragedy of the Commons problem and somebody will have a nice pot of revenue collected from this pricing policy. Other cities will learn from LA’s experiment and will be likely to mimic this smart policy. I would like to know why the policy is only being adopted on the 14 mile stretch and whether it could be extended if the policy is deemed to be “effective”. For some specifics about this experiment click here.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Matthew Kahn is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles's Institute of the Environment. He specializes in the environmental consequences of urban growth and related quality-of-life issues.