Should We Replace the Term ‘Congestion Pricing’?

Eric Jaffe at The Atlantic Cities asked via Twitter last week: Should We Replace the Term ‘Congestion Pricing’? :

“Two favorites in my mind come from transport scholar David Levinson, who suggests road fees for general road pricing (and peak road fees for road pricing aimed at heavy congestion), and urban planner Laurence Lui, who recommends road fares. What’s nice about road fare is that it parallels mass transit, has an intuitive purpose, and offers flexibility. You can alter it to suit a specific situation — peak road fare, midtown road fare, etc. — without obscuring the basic meaning.”

The term “fare” definitely has a public transit connotation, its definition is: “The price of conveyance or passage in a bus, train, airplane, or other vehicle.”
The etymology is more general though:

fare (n.)
Old English fær “journey, road, passage, expedition,” strong neuter of faran “to journey” (see fare (v.)); merged with faru “journey, expedition, companions, baggage,” strong fem. of faran. Original sense is obsolete, except in compounds (wayfarer, sea-faring, etc.) Meaning “food provided” is c.1200; that of “conveyance” appears in Scottish early 15c. and led to sense of “payment for passage” (1510s).

On the other-hand fee comes from

fee (n.)
late 13c., from Old French fieu, fief “fief, possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment,” from Medieval Latin feodum “land or other property whose use is granted in return for service,” widely said to be from Frankish *fehu-od “payment-estate,” or a similar Germanic compound, in which the first element is cognate with Old English feoh “money, movable property, cattle” (also German Vieh “cattle,” Gothic faihu “money, fortune”), from PIE *peku- “cattle” (cf. Sanskrit pasu, Lithuanian pekus “cattle;” Latin pecu “cattle,” pecunia “money, property”); second element similar to Old English ead “wealth.”
OED rejects this, and suggests a simple adaptation of Germanic fehu, leaving the Medieval Latin -d- unexplained. Sense of “payment for services” first recorded late 14c. Fee-simple is “absolute ownership,” as opposed to fee-tail “entailed ownership,” inheritance limited to some particular class of heirs (second element from Old French taillir “to cut, to limit”).

I could go either way, but I think “fee” is better established and more likely to be adopted.

Why Covering The US In High-Speed Rail Makes No Sense At All

BI reprints my HSR article from last week: Why Covering The US In High-Speed Rail Makes No Sense At All:

“When we study successful technologies and networks (e.g. The Internet, the London Underground), we see they grow from a seed, and expand outward – not from the top down. This is natural, it is risk-averse, it allows learning to occur before over-building. Not all technologies or networks will succeed, it is best to learn that early than after building a giant White Elephant.”

I Love My Commute |

Cross-posted from, my “Valentine’s Week” entry: I Love My Commute :

I Love My Commute

This week (Valentine’s Week), we have challenged ourselves at Streets.MN to be positive, which is really much harder than complaining (you see, already I am complaining about having to not complain). So we have a theme, about which we are not entitled to be snarky, What I love about Minnesota.

Wild Turkeys

Red Fox

So what I love about Minnesota is my commute. It is 30 minutes each way from my house to my workplace at the University on foot. Most of the walk is along the river and parks. In short, it is highly walkable, and even the freeway crossings are not difficult as neither involves an interchange. On a good day I might see a bald eagle, a red fox, or a family of wild turkeys. Further, the shortest path route allows me to see the traffic on I-94 twice, so I can check on the status of bottlenecks (which I realize is a highly idiosyncratic reason to like one’s commute, but it’s a professional hazard).


The best thing is that Minnesota has enough congestion to keep me employed, but not so much to severely impact my personal quality of life.