In a Los Angeles Daily News op-ed Reason's Ted Balaker, author of an upcoming study on telecommuting, writes that telecommuters already outnumber rail riders in Los Angeles and could be a very big part of a solution that actually reduces traffic in our biggest metropolitan areas: "Every election, politicians promise to reduce traffic, which nevertheless gets worse. Lawmakers say if more of us would just get out of our cars, traffic wouldn't be so bad. They've tried everything, they say, to pry us from our sport utility vehicles -- from rail transit to 'walkable' neighborhoods to car pooling, which is, itself, a partial concession to the car's dominance. Yet nothing seems to work.
In its share of work trips, transit continues to slide, as does walking, and despite the nation's most extensive car-pool lanes system, car pooling continues to drop. But some good news has squeezed through the L.A. gridlock -- telecommuting. Other than driving alone, telecommuting is the only commuter mode to increase since 1980... Despite hefty public subsidies, transit's share of work trips in the L.A. metro area has dipped slightly since 1980, and it now stands at about 5 percent. Meanwhile, telecommuting has more than doubled. Right now, telecommuting is only 1 percentage point behind transit and costs taxpayers nothing. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, on the other hand, spends nearly $3 billion of taxpayer money per year. Bang for your buck? Telecommuters already outnumber rail commuters, and if current trends continue, soon telecommuting will top bus and rail commuting combined."
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