Felix Salmon

Vehicle emissions datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
October 13, 2009

Vehicle emissions are a major public health issue. We already know that the best thing you can do if you want to bring your crime rate down is to switch to unleaded gasoline and then wait for 20 years. Now we’re learning that if you want to improve the health of babies (and healthy babies become much more productive members of society when they grow up), simply installing an EZ-Pass tollbooth has a large and significant positive effect: the resulting improvements in congestion and emissions more than make up for any excess emissions from cars crawling through the toll plaza itself.

The negative externalities from driving, then, are significantly greater than the ones that the likes of Charles Komanoff calculates — and those are $160 per trip, in Manhattan. If we want to become a happier, healthier, more prosperous nation, then we have to wean ourselves off our car addiction. It won’t be fast, and it won’t be easy. But it’s profoundly necessary.

(Via Wessel)

Update: The E-Z Pass study can be found here; the link in the WSJ blog is broken. Thanks to Charles Kenny for the pointer.

4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I think efficient transportation will always benefit society. I’ve read that paved roads made a huge improvement to life in medieval Europe. The form of our transport vehicles seems to be a relatively small distinction to me. Why not clarify your point? Aren’t you really opposed to the internal combustion engine and car-centric city planning?

Posted by Ned Baker | Report as abusive

I appreciate your data point of the day, but the timing is poor.

As you know, CTA (Chicago) is raising train fares to $3 and bus rides to $2.50


All well and good for the Manhattanites. What shall the rest of us do, who live in places where that level of density not only doesn’t exist, but is unattainable (not to mention undesirable)? Shall we all move to Manhattan or Chicago or D.C. too so we can be just as miserable and quadruple our housing costs to boot?

Please at least VISIT somewhere in, y’know, AMERICA, like Houston, Denver, or Atlanta before spouting more of this nonsense.

Posted by Noah Yetter | Report as abusive

Changing the mentality of car loving americans would take more work than this. Besides advicing people against buying their own cars, improvements to road infrastructure and remapping of routes so that the most efficient route is taken by motorists can be helpful to the environment as well. But I support your point of wanting us to cut down on our own car addiction too.

Posted by archerpaul | Report as abusive

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