What is Congestion Pricing? Is it Fair?

Take a look at these two quirky videos about congestion pricing by Lewis Lehe:

How do you price a road? Half res from Lewis on Vimeo.

Is congestion pricing fair? from Lewis on Vimeo.

“This series began as half of my senior thesis, which answered why it’s hard to visually show certain modes of economic thinking,” Lewis explained.

“I chose congestion pricing as an example, because it’s a policy that economists support and voters oppose, and because I care about transportation. By January, I’ll have finished a website with about six animations, links, interview clips, and FAQ’s about congestion pricing.

I’ve tried to make the material watchable by mixing the argument with surreal elements. Feel free to comment with any praise or encouragement. In ‘Is congestion pricing fair?’ there is a false ending.”

A bit of background about congestion pricing from Lewis: “Congestion pricing is close to free lunch. It raises money, lowers congestion, and improves efficiency (by letting individuals monetize their time). In the next ten years, many cities and counties will resort to congestion pricing, because (1) congestion is worsening, (2) infrastructure is collapsing, and (3) municipal pension plans are going totally broke. The biggest problem with congestion pricing is equity, but I am confident we can resolve it by using revenues wisely,” he believes.

About Lewis in his own words:
“After growing up in Birmingham, Alabama (‘the Pittsburgh of the South’), I studied math/econ at University of Pittsburgh, because I lose power if I go too far from an abandoned steel mill. Now I make charts and graphs for the steel industry. I learned After Effects partly at La FUC in Buenos Aires but mainly from online tutorials as I made this series. I get my equipment from Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I have been making movies for 7 years. My Dad is an urban/environmental planner.”

I like how these videos are funny and make a complex economic and transportation topic more understandable. What do you think?



Filed under Economic Development, Editorial, Good Ideas, Public Transportation, The Media, Urban Planning

10 responses to “What is Congestion Pricing? Is it Fair?

  1. Paul

    Awesome videos! Very well done, and I like the humor.

  2. Those were both great; something I’ve never heard of and will now keep me eye on.

  3. schmange

    The Pittsburgh of the South. Get out of town!

    I am very impressed by these videos. I bet they would be a wonderful tool for teachers. You could be like the Bill Ney the Science Guy of transportation. Oh man, this stuff brings out the nerd in me.

  4. Special K

    I also think these would be a great tool for educators. They are applicable to several fields, such as economics, planning or government. And they make me laugh!

  5. Monica

    Oh, my, you did a fantastic job on these!! They are fun to watch and explain a complex (and boring) thing in a way that is entertaining and understandable. Can I use them?

  6. Lewis Lehe

    Hey monica,
    You sure are allowed to use them. I am fixing to put them on youtube in the next week or so (some people can’t use vimeo for some reason.)

    What do you want to use them for?

  7. rachel c.

    these are awesome! i love the animation.

  8. Stephanie C.

    Great stuff! I love how you are interested in what Economists support and conversely how the public tends to be against. I find that one of the hardest struggles as a Planning & Economics student. You learn all these interesting things but you must find a way to make those ideas accessible, tangible and palatable to the public, which I think you are close to doing. WELL DONE!! Keep it up! 😀

  9. Monica

    Hi Lewis: I work for Caltrans Traffic Operations and, as you may know, many of our regions in California are strategizing to use congestion pricing on Express Lanes (you get in either with a carpool or by paying a toll). These videos would be great tools to communicate the “new” concept to our internal staff and managers and also to some politicians. I thought I knew congestion pricing, and your videos even helped ME understand the economics better!

  10. Lewis Lehe

    Monica, that’s great. can you email me?

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