Transportation Fairy Tales?

Wendell Cox charges that Ventura County, CA's plans to promote alternative transit strategies over expanding highways is a "fairy tale" that will result in additional pollution and more traffic.

" 'The growing congestion problems on county roads and highways cannot be solved solely by building our way out of it by adding and widening roads,' stated a resolution passed by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24.

Irrational opposition to highway and roadway expansion is making Ventura County and other areas around the country far more congested than necessary.

...The basic problem is providing a real alternative to the automobile. This requires a system or service that can actually persuade people to voluntarily get out of their cars.

...Consider this: Mass transit currently supplies less than one-quarter of 1 percent of all transportation in Ventura County. That means for every one mile traveled by mass transit, more than 400 miles are traveled by car."

[Editor's note: Requires free registration.]

Thanks to Wendell Cox

Full Story: Supervisors endorse transportation fairy tales



Cox Ignores the Facts about Freeways

Cox just speaks against public transit, and he ignores the fact that expanding freeways does not reduce congestion. For example, one study found that, 5 years after a major freeway is completed in California, 95% of the new capacity is filled with traffic that would not have existed if the freeway had not been built.

This new traffic comes from people driving longer distances, because new freeways generate more sprawl, more regional shopping at the expense of local shopping, and so on. The amount the average American drives has more than doubled since 1970. This obviously is not because of people who shifted from transit to driving, since transit was a small part of American's transportation in 1970. It is because sprawl makes people drive longer distances.

By just contrasting freeways with transit, Cox misses the real point: more freeways generate more sprawl developments, which generate more traffic, so the freeways end up being congested as ever.

Charles Siegel

Cox Ingnores the Facts

Why is anything that Cox says given any credibility? The man has been "schlepping" his so-called "free-market" transportation solutions in a world where there our transportation systems are anything but free-market. Interesting that he never suggests "free-market" solutions relative to highways.

Stu Nicholson
Public Information Offcier
Ohio Rail Development Commission


Cox acknowledges that:

(1) Ventura County relies almost exclusively on cars to get around.

(2) Ventura Country has a congestion problem.

And yet his solution is:

(3) Rely exclusively on cars to get around.

This makes no sense. The experience in Ventura mirrors the problems municipalities are facing all over the country: if you expand road capacity you will simply attract more drivers until you reach pre-expansion congestion levels. Paving your way out of congestion is a Sisyphean task.

Cox somehow thinks that Ventura's lack of mass transit is itself a reason to not invest in mass transit, which is absurd. Cox is correct that the automobile has had an enormous impact on our quality of life - it has encouraged sprawl and increased our dependence on dwindling oil supplies.

Cox seems to think that the car is absolutely indispensible, as if it dropped like manna from heaven three-millenia ago. But the fact is that the car is a relatively recent pestilence. We have lived with no cars before, and we can and should live with fewer cars in the future.

Clay Martin

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