Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Slugging Should Be Legal

The Wall Street Journal has a story about the Port Authority of NY/NJ ticketing drivers who pick up passengers in order to qualify for the cheaper car pool lanes across the George Washington bridge. This practice is known as "slugging" and is pretty common (Washington, D.C. and the Bay Area have lots of slugging) though legally discouraged. The Port Authority claims that they are cracking down due to safety concerns, but there have not been any reported problems. The Port Authority should not put themselves in the position of evaluating the quality of the relationships among the people in a car, which is effectively what they are doing. From the WSJ story:
Leonor Javier was driven to form "the Carpoolers" when she received the first of two tickets last July 4. The woman she picked up, shopkeeper May Chin, has since become a friend and joined the cause. The patrolwoman's reasons for giving Ms. Javier the first citation still anger her: "What she said is 'Do you know this lady? You might get killed.' "
Tickets should not be issued based on how well passengers know each other. This isn't hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere. These are people trying to get to work during rush hour. If the Port Authority doesn't like giving discounts to carpoolers, then stop giving discounts. If the Port Authority wants to use their facilities most efficiently and help provide affordable transit for people, then they should formalize slugging. Set up a stop like a bus stop and let drivers use their empty seats. Congestion will lessen, traffic will flow smoother and people will get where they want to go.

The Fort Lee carpoolers have been trying to win this battle for a while. Here is a story from last fall that nicely describes how counterproductive the PA carpooling plan is.
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