Saturday, February 9, 2013

Congestion conundrum

If you're a parent, you've probably been in this situation: the kid is being a jerk, and you and spouse are going crazy. However, spouse has an all-day appointment or job to go to, and is decidedly less worked up than you. Actually, spouse doesn't seem to be bothered at all, but rather preoccupied with other, more pleasant matters. But just before she leaves, out of a misplaced sense of guilt, she goes nuclear on the kid: "Ok, if that's the way you want to be, you're grounded and you get no computer/iPhone/TV for the rest of the day!" Kid starts having a fit and, and, spouse, her parental duties properly disposed, breezes out the door.

You think, Thanks a million. Now I'm in charge of Class A, disruptive prisoner, and spouse has blown all my bargaining chips. This is going to be a long day.

This is the situation I was reminded of yesterday when Mayor Tarlos announced that Budapest would at last implement the congestion charge, and he would do it without delay -- at least not beyond 2015.

I've heard that Fidesz was grooming someone else for the top job at City Hall, and this all but confirmed it. If Tarlos says Budapest will have the congestion charge in 2015, that indicates Tarlos plans to be well out of office by then. Budapest is obliged to implement the charge because the former administration of Gabor Demszky promised to do it in order to get an EU subsidy for the Metro 4 project. 

Demszky handled that obligation just as Tarlos is now. By promising that it will be done, but sometime in the future, after several prerequisites are taken car of: opening of the new metro, creation of a peripheral park and ride infrastructure, the completion of the M0 motorway ring, and so in.

I grant that ideally all these thing should be done before congestion charging goes forward. However, I reckon that they could also be phased in over a longer timetable and that the sequence of steps isn't all that fixed. The only inviolable part of the timetable is for the mayor in question to complete his tenure and get out of harm's way before the charge comes into effect.   

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