As you may have heard the City Museum has somehow managed to put on a hugely popular exhibition of art by Banksy. Queues are reported to exist all day long and a two hour wait seems to be fairly typical. Entrance to the Banksy exhibition is 'free' - that is it is paid for by the tax payers of Bristol rather than the people actually 'enjoying' the show, many of whom are visitors from around the country. More than 350,000 people are expected to visit the Banksy exhibition by the time it closes at the end of August.
Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) as applied to transport planning puts a value on people's time so that the cost of congestion (queueing) can be compared to the cost of investing in increased capacity. The value ascribed to your time is highly variable depending on whether or not it's working time and how you travel. As a mere cyclist my working time is valued at around £17 p.h. but a car driver's working time is valued at around £27 p.h. Why I don't know off hand, probably just a reflection of deep rooted prejudices.
Non-working time is more difficult to put a value on. How much would you expect to be paid to stand around for a couple of hours doing nothing much in Queen's Road - £5 p.h., £10 p.h., £20 p.h.? Let's say £10 p.h as a conservative figure for the sake of the argument, so that's £20 for the two hour wait. Multiply that by 350,000 and we get £7 million as the value of all the time spent queueing, or in CBA terms the cost to the economy of the congestion.
Now let's suppose that someone in Bristol City Council has a clue about economics (I know, it's just a wild hypothesis) and institutes an admission charge to the museum set at a level that will just eliminate queueing (perhaps incorporating a time slot booking system). Let's guess that an admission charge of £5 would have this effect. That would result in an income of £1.75 million to the City Museum (which in turn could mean Council Tax being reduced pro rata - one can dream).
Such an admission charge would save those otherwise queueing £7 million but cost them £1.75 million in admission charges so a net saving to them of £5.25 million. In addition we have a potential saving to Bristol's Council Tax payers of £1.75 million, so the total benefit to the economy will be around the £7 million worth of time saving. Some of the value saved might well be spent in other ways in Bristol. For example visitors who weren't standing in a queue for two hours might well visit shops or cafes instead, perhaps spending an average of say £5 per head in the process so putting another £1.75 million into the local economy.
That's a simplistic summary based on some fairly arbitrary figures (do suggest corrections or refinements to this model), but it gives a useful indication of the scale of waste (which we all ultimately have to fund) arising from the economic illiteracy of Bristol City Council. Headline - Council tax payers' subsidy of Banksy exhibition costs local economy over £7 million.