Marlon Boarnet has been one of my intellectual role models since before I went to graduate school. In today’s LA Times, he does a nice job of pointing out how superficial assertions about the equity of toll roads do not hold up. Bottom line: on public goods that are subject to congestion, there are only two things that discipline or ration use: out-of-pocket money costs and/or time costs. We can’t assume that favoring one or the other necessarily leads us to one conclusion about social equity. We can be pretty sure that impoverished families do pay proportionally higher out-of-pocket costs. We also can be sure that time burdens are also disproportionate, and we should never assume that less affluent individuals’ time is “free.”
In addition to Marlon, one of my colleagues from Industrial Engineering, Jim Moore, also weighs in intelligently, as does Kathryn Phillips–who is UCLA grad, like me–with Environmental Defense Fund also writes well here.