You want to know how to solve the traffic problem in this country? You really want to know. Some of you guys aren’t going to like it because it doesn’t involve light rail or carpooling. (Not bad things in and of themselves.)
We need to increasingly privatize roads. (And really privatize. No public/private “partnerships.”)
We also generally need to move away from commuting culture (encouraged by our current highway regime) which insists that people come into an office. Most office workers should be telecommuting at this point but managers are afraid that giving employees this option will hurt productivity. (Not to mention manager job security.)
Why do you think the interstates are so congested? Simply, because they are a commons. People use them without thinking they are incurring the cost of using them (with the important exception of various gas taxes). As such people spill onto the interstates and push suburbs deeper and deeper into the countryside. Pollution increases. Commutes increase. Time is wasted. Business is hurt.
If we allowed firms to make money on roads, (and we do in some places) outside the state, the quality of our driving experiences would be higher and possibly even cheaper than now.
But people fear losing “free” highways even if it costs them aggravation and time. Better to have a “free” road which is clogged than a toll road which moves.
Wait, that doesn’t make any sense.
(From The Washington Post)
Total the numbers and, the report says, Americans spend 6.9 billion hours battling traffic and burn 3.1 billion gallons of fuel while nudging inch by inch down the roadway.
It’s also more than rush-hour headaches for workaday commuters. When considering the vagaries of traffic — bad weather, collisions and construction zones — for a trip at any time of day, drivers need to allot an average of 48 minutes for a trip that would take 20 minutes in light traffic.
“One of the strategies we point to is, have some realistic expectations,” Lomax said. “If you live in Washington, D.C., for example, and you don’t think you’re going to encounter traffic congestion on the way to work, you must work the night shift.”
Time is money.