Transit, Road Pricing and Congestion


Traffic congestion, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Image via Wikipedia

What Does Transit Do About Traffic Congestion? (updated-Human Transit, July 30, 2010)

Also discussed here: The Triple Convergence (Walkable Streets)

And here: The anti-transit shell game (Cap’n Transit Rides Again, Dec.15, 2009)

And here: The “Transit Isn’t Green Because It Runs Empty” Line (Human Transit, Dec. 15,2009)

A thoughtful article today about the role transit plays (or not) in reducing congestion. The author points out that transit has little long lasting effect while putting a price of using a road has the same efcet as giving out free tockets to a concert vs. putting a price on attending it – the former leads to a line-up and congestion,  the latter less so- depending on the price. Another urban legend- that road widening reduces congestion is also put to bed. Congestion cures itself in terms of limiting volume and lane reductions is a surer way of reducing congestion. Better to focus on the improved air quality (and health) that results from fewer cars on the road- THAT is the key result of more public transit and the right degree of road pricing.

Key Quotes:

“ways for a city to reduce its traffic congestion:

  • Economic collapse
  • Reduction of road capacity
  • Correct pricing of road space”

Transit’s role:

  • “Transit raises the level of economic activity and prosperity at a fixed level of congestion
  • Transit enables people who can’t drive to participate in economic life
  • Transit-dependent cities are generally more sustainable than car-dependent cities
  • Intense transit service is essential for congestion pricing
  • Surface exclusive transit lanes (for buses, rail, and arguably two-wheelers and taxis) improve the performance of emergency services”

“three types of convergence occur on the improved expressway:

  1. many drivers who formerly used alternative routes during peak hours switch to the improved expressway (spatial convergence);
  2. many drivers who formerly traveled just before or after the peak hours start traveling during those hours (time convergence); and
  3. some commuters who used to take public transportation during peak hours now switch to driving, since it has become faster (modal convergence)”
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