Out of Control Policy Blog

Bradbury's Latest Fiction: LA Needs Monorail!

While he may be a legendary sci-fi author, Ray Bradbury is hardly a transportation guru:

    Sometime in the next five years, traffic all across L.A. will freeze. The freeways that were once a fast-moving way to get from one part of the city to another will become part of a slow-moving glacier, edging down the hills to nowhere.

    . . . .

    A single transit line will not answer our problems; we must lay plans for a series of transportation systems that would allow us to move freely, once more, within our city.

    The answer to all this is the monorail.

Once again, we see a "forward thinking" congestion-relief proposal based on the stale premise that shiny new transit systems will somehow lure people out of their beloved cars (which experience repeatedly shows us is false).

My colleague Bob Poole offers a better, more realistic approach in his latest Public Works Financing piece:

    For the past 20 years, a phalanx of thinkers and interest groups has told us that we can't build our way out of congestion. Instead of trying, they say, we should invest transportation resources in massive attempts to get people out of their cars (via building rail systems that hardly anyone can use conveniently and by making drastic changes in land-use). The only realistic response to congestion (per Brookings scholar Tony Downs) is to sit back and get used to it as a permanent feature of urban life. These ideas have captured a surprisingly large degree of mind-share among the people who staff and govern the Metropolitan Planning Organizations of many urban areas, and even quite a few leaders of state DOTs.

    America is overdue for an alternative to this dismal approach. It would begin from the premise that our goods move mostly by truck and we move mostly by car for very good reasons of cost, time, and flexibility. The failure is not caused by the users of the highway system but by its producers. What we need is a market-driven highway system that provides drivers and truckers with as much roadway as they are willing to pay for.

Read the whole thing for a preview of Reason's new Mobility Project, which aims to develop and implement a framework for removing congestion as an obstacle to mobility in American cities.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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