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Autonomous vehicles make congestion pricing even more critical

Autonomous vehicles make congestion pricing even more critical

Brooks Rainwater
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Autonomous vehicles will soon be ubiquitous on city streets. Before this happens, we should ask ourselves: Will they whisk us quickly through cities or make traffic worse?
A car is a car, whether self-driving or people driven—taking up a great deal more space than busses, streetcars, or trains—so let’s make sure the cost is right. Traffic has already increased in many cities due to widespread ride-hailing. Once Uber further rolls out autonomous vehicle fleets, calling a car will be cheaper, more competitive—and a potential burden on our streets.
A new study by UC Santa Cruz Professor Adam Millard-Ball in the Journal of Transportation Policy makes a convincing case that self-driving cars will dramatically increase traffic further. Millard-Ball forecasts that the number of cars on the street could grow exponentially as more people are able to take their hands off the steering wheel and just sit back and ride.
Furthermore, when not in use, autonomous vehicles need to go somewhere. There are three options: go back home, park somewhere, or circle around. Most likely, these cars will endlessly circle the streets rather than parking and paying fees.
The rise in ride-hailing speaks to the need to think about congestion pricing — even more so in light of autonomous vehicles potentially circling the city aimlessly in the years to come — in more dynamic terms.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Existing congestion pricing schemes work a few different ways. Most programs either identify a core part of the city or specific zones within the city to institute a flat or variable rate fee on vehicles that drive into the specified areas. The systems monitor compliance through gantry and camera systems that record license plates, or some version of transponders in vehicles. All congestion pricing systems attach a price to road usage.
Particularly, variable pricing that captures usage throughout the city could lead to different decision-making by autonomous vehicles. Rather than ghosting through the streets waiting to pick up passengers, these cars could instead choose to park in either the core of the city or on the periphery, helping to unclog streets rather than adding to traffic.
Variable pricing increases as traffic increases, thereby pushing some drivers—or in the future self-driving vehicles—off the road and making cars glide more smoothly. In the US, we are most familiar with variable tolling schemes implemented on highways, but congestion pricing systems like those in Singapore and Stockholm include a variable nature to them throughout the congestion zone.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Congestion pricing could directly counteract an increase in vehicle usage, and ensure self-driving cars pay full freight for the impact they create. New York City will be implementing a congestion zone starting in 2021 that will affect all drivers south of 60th Street entering Manhattan. While the final structure is still to be determined, experts say it could bring in more than $1 billion a year to support public transit upgrades.
Across the pond, London’s policy — first implemented in 2003 — covers a core eight mile square zone and currently costs around $15. From 2002 to 2014, private cars entering the central zone dropped 39%. However, with the rapid increase in ride-hailing brought about by Uber and other companies, congestion has again increased.
In the Washington, D.C., and LA regions, variable pricing — just not in a downtown congestion zone — already provides highway drivers with the option to pay to drive in a free-flowing lane. The cost to consumers is anything but free, because the cost must line up with demand to keep traffic moving. In the Washington, D.C., region, the charges to drive from the city from far-out suburbs peaked near $40. But that was what it cost to keep traffic moving.
Singapore, on the other hand, extends this logic to the core of its city with its congestion pricing model. The city has over 50 points within the designated area in and around the central business district, and each of these points charges between $0 – $3, depending on the time of day and traffic conditions. Stockholm follows a similar logic to Singapore’s system with a total cap of around $11.30 per vehicle per day.
Good, responsive public policy can help us make the right choices. Congestion pricing can serve as a market-based regulator that gets the right number of cars on the street at a given time. At the same time, depending on the fuel mix of cars with gas versus electric, these systems can improve air quality and public health. And the funds from these plans can help support and improve transit systems.
When you ask city leaders what kind of cities they and their residents are trying to build, the resounding answer is cities for people, not cars. Let’s make sure self-driving vehicles help make cities better for everyone.

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$25,000 Bitcoin Price Next for Perma-Bull Lee after Ringing Crypto Winter Dead

$25,000 Bitcoin Price Next for Perma-Bull Lee after Ringing Crypto Winter Dead

By CCN: Fundstrat CEO Tom Lee says the ‘crypto winter’ is finally over, offering 13 solid reasons to back up his claim. According to the bitcoin perma-bull, there’s nothing but blue sky between here and his $25,000 price prediction.If he’s right, then bitcoin has bottomed for this cycle and we have now entered a bull market. Lee’s 13 signs touched on everything from technical analysis, Wall Street involvement, bitcoin metrics, and generally positive sentiment.After a disturbing pullback to ~$6,200, #Bitcoin back >$8,000 further cementing positive trend intact.As we said a few weeks ago, Consensus 2019 @coindesk was to prove whether crypto winter is over……confirmed pic.twitter.com/M8ni4g2YvX— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) May 19, 2019Bitcoin’s “disturbing pullback” to $6,200 just a blipLee said that bitcoin’s recent flash crash to $6,200, which was triggered by a huge sell order on Bitstamp, was a blip. And the subsequent rebound to $8,000 strengthened the case that bulls were back in control of the market.Tom Lee believes bitcoin has bottomed at $3,200 and begun the road to recovery. Source: CoinMarketCapAs Lee points out in his 13 reasons, negative news stories no longer seem to dent the market. Citing recent events that ought to have shaken the markets, he said:“Stable market reaction to controversy around Bitfinex/Tether and NY Attorney General’s court order alleging undisclosed transfer from Tether’s reserves to Bitfinex in order to cover up mishandled funds.”Lee: Consensus 2019 confirms the end of crypto winterLee said the final proof of bitcoin’s rebound lies with the Consensus conference. The event, run by Coindesk, is often cited as a catalyst for price action, known as the “Consensus Pump.”The bitcoin price rallied to a ten-month high of $8,000 as the conference kicked off. It was the catalyst Lee needed to confirm that crypto winter is finally over.Bitcoin transactions surge and accumulation beginsAmong the other reasons for Lee’s conclusion is the volume of bitcoin transactions. He wrote that on January 23rd:“On-chain transactions per day turn positive YoY, the first time since January 2018 (consistently).”#bitcoin transactions reaching ath’s again🚀 pic.twitter.com/YMfQIQir1C— Sakura ¥ (@carryyen) March 28, 2019He also pointed to volume on over the counter (OTC) markets, hinting that brokers were reporting 60 – 70 percent increase in new client activity. At the same time, wealthy investors were accumulating bitcoin, not just on OTC markets, but in Grayscale’s flagship Bitcoin Investment Trust.It’s in the charts…Additionally, Lee points to a slew of technical analysis that confirms bitcoin’s upward trends. The most significant of which is the so-called “golden cross” when bitcoin’s 50-day moving average crossed the 200-day moving average. It historically indicates a bull market, not just in crypto, but in financial markets generally.Ladies & Gents… The Golden Cross!Bitcoin’s 50-day moving average (gold) crossing above her 200-day moving average (blue). 📈This is yet another sign that we’re back in a🐂market. 🚀🌛 pic.twitter.com/VK1PSsOYIB— Mati Greenspan (@MatiGreenspan) April 23, 2019Lee also cites his own firm’s Bitcoin Misery Index which ticked back up to 2017 levels.Bitcoin price to soar to $25,000?With crypto winter finally over, Lee may double down on his $25,000 bitcoin price prediction. The perma-bull originally predicted that bitcoin would hit the milestone by the end of 2018. Even when it failed to materialize, he remained optimistic, saying $25,000 is a fair price for bitcoin.“Strangely, I just think that’s a good, fair value for bitcoin, but the timing of that’s going to be difficult. Bitcoin has had 70 percent pullbacks four times already in its 10-year history, and it has recovered to new all-time highs every time. So to me, it’s resilient.”At what price will see FOMO from those who gloated about 90% crash in $BTC?Military term, SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess).My SWAG is $10,000 is price that causes FOMO from those who saw #bitcoin as dead forever. POLL: At what price do we see FOMO?— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) May 12, 2019For now, the psychological barrier remains at $10,000. According to a Twitter poll conducted by Lee, his followers believe this is the price at which new investors will FOMO into cryptocurrencies. 
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JPMorgan Tries Fear-Mongering in Attempt to Sabotage Bitcoin Price Rally

JPMorgan Tries Fear-Mongering in Attempt to Sabotage Bitcoin Price Rally

JPMorgan Tries Fear-Mongering in Attempt to Sabotage Rowdy Bitcoin Price RallyJPMorgan strategists are warning investors that bitcoin, in its current value, is overpriced. | Source: ShutterstockBy CCN: JPMorgan doesn’t love bitcoin. The bank – the United States’ biggest financial institution by assets – has been historically pessimistic about the flagship cryptocurrency, so just when bitcoin prices started going through the roof, it decided to crash the party with a dire warning.#Bitcoin prices diverge from intrinsic value, carrying echoes of late 2017, JPM says. pic.twitter.com/DImDoSMv8L— Holger Zschaepitz (@Schuldensuehner) May 17, 2019JPMorgan makes yet another effort to sabotage bitcoinThe crypto winter gave JPMorgan’s bitcoin bears reason to cheer earlier this year. The Wall Street firm’s analysts were bandying about a $1,260 bitcoin price target in January, warning HOLDers that they should prepare for more pain in case the crypto winter continued.Bitcoin’s impressive price rally has made those analysts eat their words as the digital currency is now trading over $7,900. But JPMorgan says that the current bitcoin price is reminiscent of 2017’s boom-bust pattern when the cryptocurrency’s market price had surged ahead of its intrinsic value and then crashed spectacularly.JPMorgan strategists wrote in a note (via Bloomberg):Over the past few days, the actual price has moved sharply over marginal cost. The divergence between actual and intrinsic values carries some echoes of the spike higher in late 2017, and at the time this divergence was resolved mostly by a reduction in actual prices.The note tells us that JPMorgan is trying to rain in on bitcoin’s parade, giving bears fodder by telling them that bitcoin’s current price doesn’t reflect its true value. But there’s a flaw in the JPMorgan has arrived at the “intrinsic value” of bitcoin.Don’t get carried away by JPMorgan’s fearmongeringJPMorgan has arrived at bitcoin’s intrinsic value by treating the digital currency as a commodity. The Wall Street firm estimated the cost of “producing” a bitcoin using variables such as electricity expenses, hardware efficiency, and electricity expense.But it seems like JPMorgan forgot that the current bitcoin price rally has a lot more legs than the last one, and it doesn’t make sense to value it based on the cost of mining. That’s because bitcoin is proving to be a solid alternative investment at a time when the stock market is in turmoil, thanks to the US-China trade war.In a period where: —political tensions escalate between US and China, —global equity markets fall sharply—VIX largest spike in many months—global yield curves flatten/invert#bitcoin has RISEN and >$6,000Crypto showing its value as an uncorrelated asset.— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) May 9, 2019As it turns out, the Chinese are dumping their currency in favor of bitcoin to escape the yuan’s painful decline.Meanwhile, institutional investors are piling into bitcoin as the digital asset is believed to be better than gold as a safe-haven investment. Asset management firm Morgan Creek Digital’s CEO, Mark Yusko, estimates that the price of bitcoin could reach as high as $500,000 if the cryptocurrency is valued like gold:So if we get the amount of value in total Bitcoin market value or network value equal to gold, that’d be about $7.4 trillion divided by 21 million coins, although there aren’t really 21 million left, and you get around $400,000 a coin, maybe $500,000 a coin. Now, when does that happen? It’s probably over a decade or maybe even more.A survey carried out by Fidelity Digital Assets has found out that almost half of the institutional investors that it had surveyed see a place for digital assets like bitcoin in their portfolios.We asked: what do institutions really think about #digitalassets? https://t.co/3Lq5h5ITbT— Fidelity Digital Assets (@DigitalAssets) May 2, 2019So, JPMorgan’s claim that the price will crash just because it is trading above the intrinsic value, which has been arrived at by calculating mining costs, is nothing but a farce.It’s ‘Worth Nothing’: Jamie Dimon Takes Another Shot at Bitcoin https://t.co/junawpXqNa— CCN.com (@CCNMarkets) September 22, 2017But bitcoin has proved that it has value because of its real-world use cases. So don’t be surprised to see JPMorgan’s famed analysts eating their words once again when the price shoots higher.Click here for a real-time bitcoin price rally. About The AuthorHarsh ChauhanHarsh Singh Chauhan has a wealth of experience evaluating publicly-traded companies across several verticals, including technology, oil and gas, retail, and consumer goods. He is a syndicated author whose articles have been published on reputed online platforms across the U.S., Europe, and India since 2011.This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
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