Brian Ashton’s Backup Lights

Jim Byers wrote up a short and unfortunate piece for the Saturday Star (07.03.03) that took even me, slayer of congestion myths, by surprise. He covered some recent comments ascribed to my heretofore favorite Toronto Councilor, Brian Ashton. And I quote the article carefully so as to avoid a lawsuit:

"There will be headlights shining out of my butt before we ever see congestion charges in Toronto," Councillor Brian Ashton told the Toronto Star.

Mr Ashton is an experienced and intelligent councilor. So intelligent that I even got off my headlights to vote for him. This is a man who three years ago personally showed me how to tie up my garbage bag for the Green-Container program. A man who I know gives a … (well, maybe not with his head lights stuck in there).

This unfortunate comment by, or coverage of (I’m not sure which), Mr Ashton perpetuates a nasty myth. It’s not even on my canon of seven at the right. The Ashton myth is “Congestion pricing = The London Method = $20 flat rate”.

I cheered that Mayor Miller sent Ashton to London. I assumed (there’s a mistake!) that Ashton would make two observations: (1) that the London congestion charge worked; and (2) that it was butt-ugly (I use Ashton’s high-brow language, here).

I further assumed that he would come to the conclusion that congestion charging works, but that it should not ever be done the way London does it. That is the conclusion of all those who study congestion charging.

Until Brian Ashton starts making some distinctions between the London Way and the correct way he is talking out of his headlights.

And those headlights, facing backwards as you might imagine, illuminate little.

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