the rich pay, the poor don’t-

the rich pay, the poor don’t-
the rich pay, the poor don’t-
from Massimo Gaggi

Progressive ticket to enter the city. Mayor Breed’s proposal: for those over 100,000 a year a toll of 6.5 dollars. Traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels

The pandemic which, beyond the health impact, has upset the economy of all countries bringing entire sectors to their knees, from catering to air transport, has also had positive aspects for some: for example for white-collar workers who have discovered thea possibility to work remotely with the comforts of home saving hours of travel. Speculate the satisfaction of road traffic technicians in large metropolitan areas, choked by traffic jams. Grown in vain for years, the hope that the problem would resolve itself with the rise of teleworking suddenly seemed to come true as office towers emptied from New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to San Francisco.

Less public transport

But the satisfaction was short-lived: the sensors of these technicians (data on transit at intersections or those on the occupancy rate of parking lots) say that in many cities at the beginning of the summer, traffic had returned to 85-90 for one hundred pre-pandemic levels. The simple reason: traffic drops if most citizens continue to use suburban trains, subways and other means of collective transport. But if for fear of contagions, people move en masse towards the private car the streets become saturated again.

What will happen in September

what is happening, for example in San Francisco, where municipal authorities look with terror at what may happen after Labor Day: the holiday (6 September) that marks the end of summer and which this year has taken on the value of a turning point for the return to face-to-face teaching in all schools and for the parallel reopening of a large number of offices. Often the return to the office will be partial: it is imagined that Monday and Friday will become the favorite days for teleworking while from Tuesday to Thursday the offices will fill up.

Progressive taxation

In the city overlooking the Pacific, they plan to combat congestion by introducing, as has been done elsewhere, from London to New York via Milan, a toll for entry into the city center. But, instead of adopting a fixed or graduated rate for pollution levels (free for electric cars, discounts for hybrids, full rate for petrol and diesel), the progressive mayor London Breed would also like to apply the criterion of progressive taxation to urban mobility: if you have declared high incomes, the sensor that identifies your car at the entrance to the center will charge you more, while if you are poor you enter for free, even if you have an old car and the muffler that spits smoke. The law now being examined by the city hall provides that those who earn more than 100,000 dollars a year pay 6.50 every time they enter the center. Discounts for residents and the disabled. IFree entry for those with incomes of less than $ 46,000.

Car on loan?

A reaction to the extreme inequalities of America, particularly accentuated in San Francisco, the capital of digital empires, but also a choice that is not very ecological and of dubious effectiveness. There are those who imagine racing to borrow the cars of broke friends. Or even rich friends who, jugglers of deductions, manage to cancel their taxable income: we have just discovered, thanks to an investigation by ProPublica, that in some years even Jeff Bezos has paid no income tax.

Will it be the right time?

The objective of the toll remains to push citizens towards the electric and the car sharing. But San Francisco politicians argue about congestion pricing since 2010 and not said that this is the right time: with the offices of the financial district still largely empty, many fear that the toll will frustrate the city’s attempts to get employees who now work remotely and who were employed to return to their offices to bars, restaurants and others. Parking included.

July 31, 2021 (change July 31, 2021 | 22:20)


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