A few cities have tried congestion pricing, most notably Stockholm and London, and in most cases it has been a success. Stockholm imposed congestion pricing on a trial basis last year; the program worked so well that voters opted to reinstitute it. Since the London plan was introduced, in 2003, vehicle speeds in the city's central business district have increased by thirty-seven per cent and carbon-dioxide emissions from cars and trucks have dropped by fifteen per cent... Now nearly two-thirds of Londoners say that they back the scheme.
The case against congestion pricing is often posed in egalitarian terms. "The middle class and the poor will not be able to pay these fees and the rich will," State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, of Westchester County, declared after listening to the Mayor’s speech. In fact, the poor don't, as a rule, drive in and out of Manhattan...
Meanwhile, it's naive to suppose that congestion isn't itself costly. Sitting in traffic, a plumber can't plumb and a deliveryman can't deliver. The value of time lost to congestion delays in the city has been put at five billion dollars annually. When expenses like wasted fuel, lost revenue, and the increased cost of doing business are added in, that figure rises to thirteen billion dollars. The question, Bloomberg observed, is "not whether we want to pay but how do we want to pay?"
--Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, on the compelling case for charging people to drive in Manhattan