My hubby has done an absolutely hilarious post over at Ricochet, and I just had to let my followers here see it. The new mayor of Seattle is seriously considering imposition of “congestion pricing” to discourage people from driving into the city in their own automobiles, and “reduce vehicle emissions” to counter “climate change” (as if one city can have even a tiny effect on “climate change”!!) This will make you laugh out loud!
I couldn’t resist passing on this news item, inspired by Seattle Times staff reporter David Gutman.
Seattle will develop a plan to troll city roadways as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions, Mayor said Tuesday.
Details of what such a plan might look like are sparse, and will hinge on a trolling study focused on downtown neighborhoods that should have initial results later this year.
While several foreign cities use broad congestion-trolling schemes to reduce car and foot travel in their most-clogged downtown areas, no American city has established a similar widespread trolling system.
The mayor said she was hopeful a congestion-trolling system could be in place by the end of her first term, in 2021.
The mayor had said during her campaign last fall that the city should explore congestion trolling.
Seattle could implement trolling within the city without the permission of the state Legislature, but it would almost certainly require the approval of city voters.
In 2015, 56 percent of Puget Sound-area voters said systemwide trolling was a bad or very bad idea, according to a poll from the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Congestion trolling can take a number of forms, and it’s unclear which the city may pursue.
Hiring both homeless and introducing unwanted smartphone internet traffic to pester motorists and pedestrians on more heavily trafficked streets and byways would discourage rush-hour car, foot and bicycle traffic and would be employed as a form of congestion trolling. Electronic trolling of airwaves would jam normal internet access and replace expected internet traffic with offensive advertisements and social media attacks.
Similarly, so-called cordon trolling, where a heavily trafficked area (think downtown and South Lake Union) is virtually “cordoned” off, and trolls and electronic trolling are employed at the entrances to an area.
New York City has been discussing cordon trolling in Manhattan, without taking action, for more than a decade.
Congestion trolling is being proposed as part of a push to cut the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce economic activity. Seattle’s four previous mayors have all tried, and mostly failed, to reduce the city’s carbon output, as a booming population has offset decreases in per-person emissions.
Transportation is responsible for about two-thirds of Seattle’s greenhouse-gas emissions, and most of the mayor’s proposed changes focus on that sector.
The mayor also wants to make Seattle much more hospitable to electric cars. She said she will introduce legislation requiring that new developments (or renovations) that build parking also include electric-vehicle charging stations and would contain key software and hardware to defeat electronic trolling, at least until the city becomes overrun with electronic cars.
Decreases in tax revenues as a result of congestion trolling would be used to decrease transit service throughout the city and thereby reduce greenhouse-gas emissions further.
“We want to make it more uncomfortable for people to drive and walk downtown so they won’t want to come here,” she said. “We as a city and as a region have to make real on the promise of reduced emissions and commercial activity.”
The mayor’s radical climate action plan, spurred along by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, also aims to develop programs to decrease building energy use around the city by discouraging commercial activity.
“If our country is going to do anything significant on climate, the leadership has to come from states and cities,” the mayor said.
Actual tolling is already coming to downtown Seattle, with the opening of the Highway 99 tunnel, scheduled for later this year. But the state Transportation Commission continues to struggle deciding how much to toll and when to start tolling.
Whatever price the agency settles on, the tolls will cause some drivers to skip the tunnel, pushing more cars onto already suffocating downtown streets, creating increased demands on trolling to manage congestion.
That’s why, last year, the City Council authorized $200,000 to study the effects of the tunnel’s tolls and to explore congestion trolling in Seattle.
“The study would focus on the broader equity implications of congestion trolling in Seattle (particularly who is driving, bicycling and/or walking and at what times) and explore options, such as the idea of trolling downtown Seattle exits, to ensure that downtown homeless continue to have enough room to move around and find places to camp reliably,” the proposal for the study said.
City Councilperson, who proposed the study, said last fall the city was “a long ways” from considering congestion trolling but that the study would be useful information to have when that discussion did happen.
His office said Tuesday that the study would likely be put out for bid in the next couple of weeks and they hope for initial findings by October.
Durkan said that study would be the “starting point” for a plan on congestion trolling, “looking exactly where those corridors are where it makes sense both from a city betterment project and a greenhouse gas project.”
Seattle has studied congestion trolling previously.
A 2003 study by the Puget Sound Regional Council found that regionwide variable trolling — employing varying numbers of trolls on all major roads at different times — “could make excessive reoccurring congestion a thing of the past.”
A 2009 study, commissioned by the city, recommended trolls as a way to lower the city’s greenhouse- gas emissions, deal with congestion and decrease revenue.
And, while not anything like trolling, the state is currently studying a tax on every mile driven, as a way to replace the gas tax.
Foreign cities that have implemented widespread trolling — London, Stockholm and Milan are prominent examples — have generally faced public opposition that faded away after the system was put in place and traffic congestion decreased. And the homeless people were much happier.
“Roadway trolling tends to poll poorly,” Matthew Gibson, an economist at Williams College who has studied trolling, said in an interview last year. “After people experience it for a while, support tends to increase.”
New York City is the only other American city to look seriously at congestion trolling, but it has repeatedly backed away.
Just last week, New York legislators agreed on a budget that did not include Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s much-discussed proposal for imposition of nearly 12 trolls to drive into midtown Manhattan.