How to drive traffic away

Michael Lewyn's picture
Blogger

A few days ago, I was trying to take a streetcar in Toronto- and the streetcar was just as congested as any suburban arterial. The lines in front of streetcars were so long that I couldn't get into the first streetcar. Or the second. Or the third. Instead, I had to wait a few minutes (horrors!) for the fourth streetcar.

I asked myself: what if streetcars only ran every hour, instead of every few minutes? Would the streetcars be equally crowded? Of course not. People would abandon the streetcars and start to use cars (if they owned them) and buy them (if they did not yet own them).

In my experience, there is an inverse correlation between the amount of public transit service and the amount of overcrowding on trains or buses: in places with extensive service, overcrowding is a problem- but in places where public transit is limited to hourly bus service (e.g. Jacksonville, Florida) buses tend to be delightfully uncrowded, and usually I can not only sit in a seat but put my bags on the seat next to me. In three years in Jacksonville, I do not think I ever had to stand on a bus.

This methodology should tell us something about how and when we build roads. If (as I have suggested) reduced transit service means less congestion on transit, why should roads be any different?

Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.

Comments

Comments

Josh Stephens's picture
Blogger

Induced Demand

It seems like induced demand might apply to transit as well as to highways. But in a good way.

REPLY

YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU SAID. THE THING IS . THE TRANSIT COMMISSION KNOW THAT WE NEED THEM TO GET AROUND IN A CITY LIKE OURS, AND PLAY IT FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE PASSENGERS EVEN THOUGH WE ARE THE ONES PAYING FOR THIS SERVICE TO EVEN BE OPENED AS A PART OF OUR DAILY ROUTEEN. OUR ROADS HAVE BEEN CREATED WAY BEFORE OUR TIME. THIS WOULD TAKE ALOT OF MONEY TO RE-CREATE AND GUESS WHO'S POCKET IT WILL COME OUT OF?

YOU GOT IT. OURS, THE PEOPLE WHO KEEP THIS BUS SERVICE ALIVE.

THEY GET PAID WELL, THEY DON'T NEED TO CARE ABOUT US LITTLE GUY'S.

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Women's t-shirt with map of Los Angeles

City T-Shirts for the ladies!

Women's Supersoft CityFabric© Fashion Fit Tees. Now available in six different cities.
$24.00
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET