Traffic Congestion

Blog post
September 3, 2013, 11am PDT
Conventional transportation planning tends to exaggerate congestion costs and roadway expansion benefits, and undervalues other transportation solutions such as improving alternative modes, pricing reforms and smart growth policies.
Todd Litman
September 3, 2013, 9am PDT
Architect and planner Gerhard W. Mayer asserts that a city developed to accommodate cars is no place for paltry public transit offerings; Los Angeles needs major changes to its DNA if it wants to remain viable.
The Architect's Newspaper
Blog post
March 6, 2013, 10pm PST
The "Urban Mobility Report" produces widely-cited congestion cost estimates. It is biased in various ways that exaggerate congestion costs and roadway expansion benefits. Few users of these cost estimates seem aware of these problems.
Todd Litman
February 5, 2013, 2pm PST
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is out with its annual Urban Mobility Report. You'll probably hear a lot in the next day about how awful your city's traffic is. But you likely won't hear much about why that might not be so bad.
Slate
December 26, 2012, 11am PST
The increased proximity provided by more compact and centralized development is about ten times more influential than vehicle traffic speed on the number of destinations that people can reach within a given travel time.
Journal Of The American Planning Association
Blog post
November 27, 2012, 4am PST
One of planners’ most important jobs is to help develop the indicators and frameworks use to define problems and evaluate potential solution. Often, a particular solution will seem cost effective and beneficial when evaluated one way, and wasteful and undesirable if evaluated another. It is important that we help develop comprehensive evaluation frameworks that effectively inform decisions.
Todd Litman
October 26, 2012, 12pm PDT
In a landmark ruling issued last week, the Delhi High Court upheld the use of New Delhi's streets for a 5.6-kilometer bus rapid transit corridor, in a blow to auto owners seeking have it removed for use by all traffic, including private vehicles.
The New York Times
Blog post
September 13, 2012, 5am PDT

Conventional planning tends to consider traffic congestion a significant cost and roadway expansion the preferred solution. It evaluates transport system performance based on indicators such as roadway Level of Service (LOS)and peak-period traffic speeds, and dedicates most transportation resources (road space and money) to roads and parking facilities. This results in predict and provide planning in which roadways are expanded to accommodate anticipated traffic, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by inducing additional vehicle use.

Todd Litman
August 28, 2012, 5am PDT
Eric Jaffe reports that taxing vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) is getting a closer look in cities across America. But will concerns over privacy and government competence scuttle a promising path to reducing congestion and increasing revenue?
The Atlantic Cities
August 22, 2012, 6am PDT
Giving new meaning to the phrase "take back the streets," Neal Peirce writes about the arguments in favor of a "freeway free" future for the world's cities, which was the subject of a recent Rockefeller Foundation Conference held in Bellagio, Italy.
Citi Wire
August 16, 2012, 7am PDT
As the new federal transportation bill, known as MAP-21, moves to the implementation stage, major finding decisions will ride on the nuances by which the U.S. DOT defines and measures "congestion," "roadway performance," and "cost effectiveness".
Streetsblog Capitol Hill
Blog post
June 3, 2012, 8pm PDT

Congratulations to this year's high school, college and university graduates! The current crop includes our son, who was recruited by a major corporation. The location of his new job will affect his travel patterns and therefore the transportation costs he bears and imposes for the next few years: until now he could get around fine by walking, cycling and public transport, but his new worksite is outside the city center, difficult to access except by automobile. As a result he will spend a significant portion of his new income to purchase and operate a car, and contribute to traffic congestion, parking costs and pollution. This is an example of how land use decisions, such as where corporations locate their offices, affects regional transport patterns and costs.

Todd Litman
May 29, 2012, 11am PDT
With the Olympic games, and millions of visitors, descending on London this summer, Sarah Lyall looks at how the capital city is hoping to spare users of its ancient road network and temperamental subway system from a transportation nightmare.
The New York Times
May 25, 2012, 7am PDT
An important new study published by the Arizona Department of Transportation indicates that, contrary to claims by critics, urban corridors have considerably less congestion than suburban corridors, despite many times higher densities.
Streetsblog D.C.
March 21, 2012, 7am PDT
The Chinese government is taking productive steps to reduce the runaway congestion and air pollution that are making Beijing unlivable, writes Heshuang Zeng.
The City Fix
February 15, 2012, 11am PST
Nate Berg reports on a plan by federal and city government officials in Moscow to decamp from the central city for offices in newly annexed outer regions, and to redevelop the former office buildings as housing and hotels.
The Atlantic Cities
January 31, 2012, 2pm PST
Writing in the Economix blog for the <em>New York Times</em>, Nancy Folbre investigates the economic impact of traffic and revives the idea of congestion pricing for Manhattan.
The New York Times
Blog post
October 2, 2011, 12pm PDT

Once again the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) published its annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR), and once again I feel obliged to warn planners that it is based on faulty assumptions and biased analysis methods. This is not to deny that traffic congestion is a significant problem, but the UMR significantly exaggerates its importance compared with other transport costs and exaggerates roadway expansion benefits.

Todd Litman
September 28, 2011, 9am PDT
Joe Peach compares the approach to mollifying congestion in five world cities, with contrasting results.
This Big City
September 14, 2011, 11am PDT
San Francisco has made steps to avert cars from Market Street, but the next steps to alleviate congestion are vague. A gradual rollout of trial experiments to gauge a method's success seems the most likely answer, reports Rachel Gordon.
San Francisco Chronicle