Monday, September 19, 2005

"...Get Other People Out of Their Cars So That Mine Can Take Me Where I Want to Go -- Fast!"

Pretty good little commentary in the Los Angeles Times last week by Tim Rutten, that appeals to the imp in me. He writes about public transit and traffic gridlock, and why most people say they support transit -- because they hope others will take it so they themselves can keep driving.

One problem, though, "Public transit could cure all this, if only people would use it."

Ruttan says, "people once again have started nodding their heads when one or another dough-faced urban planner from the Institute for a Joyless Future...starts talking up another public transit project. Well, I've been to that dance before and this time count me out."

It's not that I'm against transit, I'm not. I think it is an important part of our overall transportation system in growing metropolitan areas. I just agree with the tenor of Ruttan's piece, that sometimes we planners (and enviros -- especially!) seem to think that transit will solve all our problems. The issues are much deeper and more complex than simply providing a system other than roads.

Anthony Downs writes about this kind of stuff all day, and I agree with him, we need to get used to congestions, because it will now always be with us (unless we have some kind of complete collapse of our economic system). Transit simply provides an alternative that we need, not a cure.


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At 4:53 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

And is building more roads and highways the cure? It seems like no matter how many roads get built, there's still congestion. So that's not the best cure either.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Prof Simmons said...

Downs is right. There is no "cure." But there are ways to make things better like HOT lanes, toll roads, and congestion pricing. And yes, building more roads is the right thing to do. Although we complain about congestion, the average commute on the Wasatch Front is about 21 minutes--which is what it was 20 years ago.

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