WASHINGTON (AP) -- Charging airline passengers or motorists more to travel at peak times could reduce congestion, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told a congressional committee Wednesday.
Mineta, testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said "congestion pricing" could help spread out flights at crowded airports and encourage motorists to wait until after rush hour to take to the roads.
"The concept of assessing relatively higher prices for travel during peak congestion periods is the same as that used in other sectors of the economy to respond to peak-use demands," Mineta said. "For example, hotel rooms cost more during peak tourist seasons."
Such congestion pricing could help reduce the need for building more runways or highways, Mineta said.
Mineta and Federal Aviation Administration officials have talked about increasing landing fees at crowded airports during peak travel times. They hope such a policy would encourage passengers who have the flexibility to take cheaper flights at other hours. Such a policy could also encourage airlines to shift some flights to nearby, less-crowded airports, the way Southwest flies into Providence, R.I., instead of Boston.
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