Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bridge Policy to Nowhere?

There has been quite a bit of chatter from the Bridge Commission lately about the possibility of raising the bridge tolls during rush hour traffic. Seems the Bridge Commission wants to help the local populous move towards a greener planet by helping us change our commuting habits.

This is just a tad disingenuous don't you think? We didn't see a lot of vehicle drop-off 3 months ago when the price of gas above $1.30 a liter. We also didn't see any reduction in the 80%+ of single-occupant vehicles. Although a price jump hurts, it doesn't change driving habits.

The Bridge Commission is not owned or controlled by HRM. It has bills to pay, debts to pay back, people to keep employed. Since the bridges are running near peak occupancy, raising the tolls is a great way to generate more revenue.

If HRM owned the bridges, my guess is that the option to control burgeoning traffic would be to make the center lane a commuter's only lane. Not so hot for generating revenue, but a proven way to change driving habits. Start taking time out of people's pockets, and you get their attention. This concept works in major cities all over the planet.

All long as we don't own the bridges, we cannot enforce any progressive traffic policy that includes those bridges. Instead, we allow what is basically a private corporation to pretend to care about the planet in the guise of trying to extract more money from a driving population that will spend more money to cross a bridge, but would hate to spend a nice big chunk of extra time to do the same.

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