I just finished Balaker and Staley's The Road More Traveled.
1. Congestion costs us more than we think, in money, time, rearranging our lives, people dying in ambulances, lack of dates, and irritation.
2. We're worried that it's inevitable, so we don't do anything much about it.
3. The solutions that get the most attention are of little or no help.
A: That would be light rail and
B: Getting people to drive less.
4. No, really, those are terrible solutions. A: Railroads cost billions, but only start becoming effective at densities of 5,000 people per square mile. Basically, they work in Manhattan. We see all those people in railroad cars and think how great it is that they're not on the road. We forget that a train is essentially a one-lane highway with intermittent large packets of people. They are a disaster for most disabled people. They only attract people within a quarter-mile of a station - on both ends. Everyone else has to drive and change over. B: People don't want to drive less. They want other people to drive less. Because when you're on the highway, all those other people seem to be going to useless and annoying things that aren't as important as what you're doing.
5. We are told that you can't build your way out of congestion, but yeah, you can. It's been done, but you have to keep up with growth. We would rather that other solutions worked instead, solutions like A: light rail and B: other people driving less.
6. There are also technological solutions for managing traffic, like actual software that co-ordinates stoplights, and quick-response teams to get rid of breakdowns and accidents, and better designed feeder roads, and HOT lanes, which we are just starting to find interesting. Once we get these light rail and rideshare programs through the legislature. Mixed used zoning and telecommuting also work.
7. Some of our most important metropolitan traffic congestion managers think congestion is a good thing, because it encourages people to like A: and B:
8. Private toll roads, especially variably-priced toll roads, irritate people who think only rich people use them. But everyone uses them once in a while, and they work great at reducing congestion. So get over your class resentment.