Forget green, your time is more valuable

A Manhattan congestion pricing activist, Charles Komanoff, has achieved the unthinkable. He wrote a very competent argument 10.01.06 “With Congestion Pricing, Saving Time Trumps Reducing Pollution” and most of the numerous responses both pro and con were reasonably intelligent. That alone is one proud achievement in the CP debate.

Komanoff argues that the current value of time lost to congestion far outweighs the cost of incremental emissions caused. Scandal.

I do not like to surrender any argument for CP: productivity, time, emissions, funding, livability, health, national security (oil wars), etc. Right now a non-trivial portion of the developed world might profess to be more concerned about the environment than personal time budgets – at least many more than are willing to follow the arguments in and after his blog. Even though I largely accept Komanoff’s analysis, I don’t want to abandon those people who are pro CP for green reasons.

However, Komanoff’s argument – even if it were NOT backed up with data – is far-sighted. The reason that I have until about a year ago left emissions OUT of my arguments is that I am an optimist about technology, but not about people. However much of the CP fight trades on emissions will be eroded as green cars arrive. “What, me worry, I have an electric car!” Zoom. Zoom.

Electrification will prove Komanoff prescient.

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