Voluntary Society - Concept - Roads

Imagine No Public Roads

County of Los Angeles* cities contract to the county for an officer and his motor cycle at a rate of $200K/year. On a $100 citation, the county keeps about $60 and gives the contracting city the remainder. Even though the roads were built by private contractors hired by the county, and paid with funds extorted from the livestock in its jurisdiction (pen), and the officers are paid by the city with funds extorted from the livestock in it's jurisdiction (smaller pen), the State of California* forces the counties in its jurisdiction (larger pen) to add a 107% surcharge to the citation. The city may not be in it for profit, but it is at least motivated to have enough citations written to cover the $200K. That equates to $1,035,000 in fines per officer per year. What does that wealth extraction do to the local economy?

Regardless of posted speed limits, roads have a market speed limit at which drivers become uncomfortable. It varies according to weather, traffic and pedestrian conditions, time of day and by foot rather than sign to sign. (Driving during rush-hour on San Diego freeways when police avoided the freeways to avoid causing traffic jams demonstrated this principle to me. The maximum speed of the traffic under good conditions was about 80 mph. My freeway designer father said all freeways are designed for a maximum speed of 80 mph.)

The total cost of street and traffic analysis, speed limit signs, enforcement, accidents, and travel delays due to speed limits and accidents is likely more than the total cost of accidents without speed limits for the same period.

If those causing accidents paid the cost of clean-up, traffic control and traffic delays as well as property damages (we own ourselves), there would be fewer accidents regardless of speed limits or no limits, but governments do not compensate for traffic delays, and governments extort payment for much of the other costs from taxpayers, so cause-and-effect responsibility education is replaced with hating officers for citations.

Private road owners are in the business of maximizing throughput (paid vehicle-miles) at the lowest cost relative to their competitors. A market standard of identifying vehicles as they pass will arise, and private road owners will accordingly bill their customers for road use as a function of distance and the road pressure exerted by the vehicle, because distance is the value and pounds per square inch equates to road maintenance cost. They will also monitor air and noise pollution emanating from each vehicle, and charge accordingly in order to compensate neighbor property owners for property value loss due to air and noise pollution if it exceeds the property value gain due to the road at the market rate. Private road owners will keep their customers happy by crediting those delayed by an accident. Those who did not pay their bills or were costly (unsafe) drivers will be denied access to the road until they demonstrate responsibility.

Small roads not of interest to commercial road owners will be owned by neighborhood associations that will cover the cost of their roads while discouraging travel on some neighborhood roads, and encouraging it on others simply by adjusting the tolls, and compensating their members accordingly. Associations willing to pay more of road maintenance costs with association fees could limit traffic with high tolls, but that would also discourage visits by relatives and friends, so reasonable rates will evolve.

Banks will adapt to private road charges by keeping tolls and their corresponding travel times sorted by date and time in a separate category on credit/debit account bills. They will provide subtotals by day, so travelers can compare route costs and times, and thereby seek optimum routes for their purposes. Digital bills will be analyzed by computer programs that will map optimum routes according to traveler criteria (cost/time), and transfer selected routes to the vehicle turn-by-turn GPS device. This will eventually facilitate automated driving, and eliminate humans as a factor in safe driving.

Monopoly ownership is a concern. If adjacent roads by category (street, highway, freeway) could not be owned by the same entity, competition would be preserved. Those seeking profit from fraud prosecutions would do the investigation necessary to expose fraudulent ownership claims and thereby discourage cheating. However, this approach adds a rule that makes it impossible for the best private road owner to serve all who want that service.

It is better to let the market rule. If a road owner establishes a monopoly over an area, and provides poor value, competitors and area property owners will buy roads from the monopoly owner, or invest in new roads, or expand existing association roads to terminate the monopoly. That threat alone will keep aggressive road owners in check.

* Like all jurisdictions in the U.S.A., the corporate State of, County of and City of are layered over States, Counties and Cities, and their inhabitant livestock is duped into believing they are the same entity.

-- Bill Holmes

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