Out of Control Policy Blog

Cheap Fix

In yesterday's LA Times I was one of several researchers to offer some quick-shot, "cheap" fixes to gridlock (in the spirit of the heightened attention given to the sensible idea of one-way street conversions).

Here's my blurb:

    A big roadblock to faster traffic flow is the now-outdated notion that carpool lanes, or high-occupancy vehicle lanes, are good congestion-busters. For the most part, they're not. Carpool commuting is becoming less common even as more lanes to accommodate it are being built. Better that we turn these carpool lanes into special toll lanes.

    The toll would go up or down depending on the flow of cars: The greater the congestion, the more expensive to use these high-occupancy-toll lanes, or HOT lanes. But the flexible-pricing system would maintain free-flow conditions, allowing more vehicles to fly along the same lanes that today are often as congested as the regular ones.

    Apart from buying special software and hiring some back-office staff, setting up HOT lanes would be simply a matter of installing antennas for communication with electronic toll collectors, video cameras to catch cheaters, changeable message signs at various points along the route and plastic pylons to separate the lanes from the regular ones.

I'm often frustrated by "solution" talk in LA (subway to the sea?!), but I'm in agreement with most of the ideas tossed about here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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