It’s a widely held, even cherished, belief in California that freeways should be free. Free to drive on and free from traffic congestion.
Obviously, that belief doesn’t match the reality in Los Angeles. Take a look at any major highway during rush hour and you’ll see car after car inching along bumper-to-bumper. That congestion carries a staggering societal cost — to the environment, public health and productivity. And as bad as traffic is today, it’s projected to get far worse in the coming years as the region’s population and economy grow.
Southern California needs radical change to reduce traffic and slash the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming. One radical solution is “congestion pricing”: charging people a fee to drive on the roads in certain areas during the most car-clogged times of the day. This has been done in London, Stockholm and other cities around the world.