Out of Control Policy Blog

Traffic Snarl--Day 3

Day three of my Dust-Up in the LA Times:

Some from him:

    In all sincerity, it is foolhardy to believe that any single transportation mode can decrease congestion. Some road and freeway upgrades can relieve bottlenecks. Adding new roadway capacity, however, does not help, since the phenomenon of induced demand -- when vehicles quickly take up new capacity -- compounds the traffic problem.

    Rail alone will not reduce congestion, either. However, it has been shown that it can reduce the rate of congestion growth. Cities that offer complementary rail service experience congestion growth at a slower rate than those with auto-only infrastructure.

Some from me:

    On Monday I explained that transit usually doesn't take enough cars off the road to quell traffic congestion, and the story's grimmer still for an often-overlooked source of congestion–freight. Almost everything stocked in stores gets there by trucks, so Bart, your little trains won't do much to relieve big-rig traffic.

    You say rail reduces the rate of congestion's growth, so let's look at one of these "success" stories. In post-rail St. Louis, the increase in driving dwarfed the increase in transit ridership. Transit captured less than 1 percent of new travel, and light rail grabbed even less. In other words, rail's impact was too tiny to affect congestion. Bart, when you say rail restrains congestion's growth, you remind me of the kid who sends his piggy bank to DC and says he helped restrain the growth of the federal deficit.

Whole day's exchange here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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