Greetings from Manila where I'm attending the Asian Development Bank's Transport Forum 2012. It is an exciting and important event: the types of transport planning investments that the bank supports now can have huge impacts on the nature of future development in the world’s fastest growing countries. This is an opportunity to support truly sustainable development.
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the new U.S. federal transportation law, has the following main goals:
- Infrastructure condition
- Congestion reduction
- System reliability
- Freight movement and economic vitality
- Environmental sustainability
- Reduced project delivery delays
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.
Last week the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report, In Search of the Global Middle Class: A New Index, by researcher Uri Dadush, which uses car ownership rates as an indication of the size of a country's middle class, defined as a household that can purchase non-essential goods. The results are summarized in the figure below, which were reported in an Atlantic Monthly column, It's Official: Western Europeans Have More Cars Per Person Than Americans by Max Fisher, and
A recent paper by Harvard economists Daniel Shoag and Peter Ganong titled, Why Has Regional Convergence in the U.S. Stopped? indicates that land development regulations tend to increase housing costs, which contributes to inequality by excluding lower-income households from more economically productive urban regions. Does this means that planners are guilty of increasing income inequality?
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.