I am a new and enthusiastic listener to the Guardian’s Business Podcast. I slow my steps homewards to get to the end of it before the door opens and domestic maelstrom ensues. For the second time in a week, I urge people to subscribe to a podcast.
I mention it because the one I linked to above has an interesting though short discussion between Aditya and some fellow in LA who is arguing for more intelligent and market-sensitive parking charges.* I can sense pulses racing. But this is interesting. It is crazy how a car can squat in a piece of urban space for a dozen quid a day or so, while the housing rental yields for that area are far greater, and the many negative externalities of the parked car are utterly unaccounted for. As a modest fan of Ken’s Road pricing scheme, I wonder whether a more intelligent use of car parking charges might achieve much the same, better.
Naturally, as a rich person***, I like the idea, because I can wade in and park in a London newly rid of cars squatting at too low a price, and unload hordes of difficult-to-Tube youngsters next to previously-unreachable London landmarks. Seriously, being stuck in SW__ every weekend is not ideal.
And to prove it is interesting, Alix at the People’s Republic of Mortimer has been wondering aloud in a different direction about what re-privatising road would achieve. Her (IMHO idealistic) forecast: a return to railways and all those good things. I wonder whether her scheme has thought through all the property rights aspects, let alone distributional questions, and am too rushed to dive through all the comments to find out. Furthermore I know that T Leunig has expressed scepticism about road pricing before, and he knows about 10 X as much. But I love plans that (a) raise revenues, net**, since the bond market would like to know when it will be paid (b) address missing markets, externalities, etc (c) annoy redfaced Tory petrolheads. So surely some variation is worth looking at, some time, by someone more qualified than me.
*there is also an excellent chat with a Steven Leavitt, quite breathless towards the end on his “Spritzing Sulphur Dioxide” idea.
**I do appreciate that fuel duty already pays several times over for many externalities, or so I read in some Policy Exchange document 2 years ago.
*** I am a Lib Dem Blogger, and ought to have pointed out earlier that a. they are in favour of road pricing and also in classic Liberal Democrat fashion, b. they are vocally aware of how it may be a Poll tax on Wheels:
Environment spokesman Martin Horwood said the party’s opponents would be able to level “unfair accusations” that Lib Dems were trying to introduce “roads for the rich”.
Transport spokesman Norman Baker said the road-pricing scheme was not unfair, as it would only be introduced where there were real public transport alternatives. And he spoke in passionate defence of his party’s ideas for revolutionising transport, saying he wanted to create a “rail renaissance” alongside green policies that promote fairness.
Lib Dem commitment to open debate brings tears to my eyes, from all sorts of proximate causes.