NTPP with Co-Hosts Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman David Reichert (R-WA) hosted a policy briefing on the Hill to release our latest research paper How Fair is Road Pricing? Evaluating Equity in Transportation Pricing and Finance. The paper was written by Dr. Brian Taylor, Professor and Chair of the Urban Planning Department at UCLA. This report was initially commissioned prior to the release of NTPP’s 2009 Performance Driven report, in order to inform the recommendations for federal surface transportation policy reform put forth in that report.
Dr. Taylor’s research paper examines the equity implications of road pricing. It systematically considers the various ways that a road pricing system might raise equity concerns. Using case studies of how equity issues have been addressed in current applications of road pricing, the paper makes recommendations for how to address equity concerns in road pricing projects. Dr. Taylor points out through his research that equity is truly in the eye of the beholder.
In his opening remarks Congressman Blumenauer assured the audience that the debate highlighted by this NTPP report will be critical to developing the next authorization bill. He commended the BPC for bringing this crucial topic to the Hill. Congressman Reichert echoed a similar appreciation of BPC’s work in his remarks. Congressman Reichert stressed the importance of coming together in a bipartisan way to take a look at how to finance efforts to unclog transportation across the nation.
Dr. Martin Wachs, Director of Transportation, Space, and Technology at the RAND Corporation applauded Dr. Taylor on his research, and more specifically on his ability to explain the subtleties and the complexities associated with equity in road pricing. Dr. Wachs pointed out during his remarks that often in politically charged debates we tend to focus on the distributional aspects of the problem. We don’t often take into account, as we should, the efficiencies or effectiveness of a particular decision. Dr. Wachs noted that in most cases projects in fact proved to be much more equitable in practice than they were initially anticipated to be.
Anita Hairston, Senior Associate with PolicyLink lauded Dr. Taylor’s paper for putting the issues of equity out front. Ms. Hairston called for those involved in transportation investment decisions to use the framework presented in Dr. Taylor’s paper as a practical evaluation tool to truly understand the equity impacts of the various options for financing the transportation system.
Check out full video coverage of the event here.