Tuesday 4 October 2011

Congestion reduction fee in Seattle is not what it sounds like

When I read that King County Council had agreed to impose a “congestion reduction fee” on vehicles in Seattle, I thought it might have been some sort of congestion pricing. It isn’t.

It is a two year vehicle licencing tax of $20, collected to help fund subsidies for the county’s bus service. It is no different than regular annual vehicle licensing fees in other jurisdictions.

The report in the Ballard News Tribune states that a number of measures are to be introduced to contain the bus subsidies, including abolishing free travel downtown.

Congestion reduction though? No. It wont change driving habits, it will have an ever so tiny impact on car ownership, and wont reduce congestion at all. It is simply a straight out subsidy from vehicle owners to bus users, and employees of the bus operation. It is a simple tax, but bears no relationship whatsoever to congestion, or to reduce negative externalities from car use. Let’s not call it something that it is not.

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