By on December 20, 2018

traffic

Sitting motionless in traffic can be almost as painful as slogging through a live feed of one of Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation reveals. In a desperate bid to eliminate daily blood pressure spikes, some of us stagger our commute times (a rare option), some take public transit (often, a grim compromise), others car-pool (like it’s WW2), and those living close enough to their jobs swap the car for a bike and the often insufferable lifestyle that comes with it.

Others dream of something better. You’ve dreamed of something better, and it probably wasn’t any dumber than the lackluster tunnel The Boring Company showed off this week.

If you weren’t around for all the fanfare and resulting hot takes Tuesday night, Musk, who also does some work at Tesla and SpaceX, opened a narrow “proof of concept” tunnel between the rocketship company’s HQ, just outside of L.A., and a parking lot just over a mile distant. Journalists were invited to go down into the eccentric billionaire’s experimental tunnel. No, they weren’t all enslaved or hunted for sport, but the setup sure makes it seem like a possible outcome.

Instead, the assembled participants were taken on underground trips in a Tesla Model X at speeds reaching a blistering 40 mph. Musk envisions 150 mph travel, with cars driving onto a streetside elevator platform, lowered down into the tunnel, then whisked along, single file, at breakneck speed. Lowly motorists on the country’s packed freeways can only envision their underground superiors’ bliss and weep silently to AM talk radio, trying not to let nearby motorists see their tears.

 

The Tesla testbed vehicle deployed tracking wheels just ahead of the front tires, and Musk says all vehicles using the tunnels will be required to have these little outriggers. (They’ll also have to be electric.) Clearly, his electric skate idea is dead. These tracking wheels keep the vehicle (note: only vehicles with some type of autonomous control apply to this futuristic concept) centered within the narrow concrete track at the bottom of the tunnel. At certain points along the track, short pull-outs (ramps, spur tracks, whatever) would allow drivers to leave the underground single-lane expressway and reach street level. Other drivers would be allowed to enter at these points, as well.

Of course, none of these things occurred during the mile-long media drive, but Musk’s only existing track is purely for testing. Well, PR, really. Reporters complained of a bumpy ride.

Is this the solution to congested freeways? Boring holes beneath the city so that certain expensive vehicle owners can pay an undetermined (though likely quite high) fee to ride single-file in their own cars to work? It’s like the movie Metropolis, only reversed. In this futuristic vision, the teeming, impoverished masses now live above ground while their hedonistic, elite rulers sequester themselves below the city. I use the word masses because, unless Musk builds thousands of miles of said tunnels, freeway traffic will not ebb (even if the “Loop” employs transportation pods containing a dozen people or so). New users will rush to fill the freeway gap.

Another thing: Surely, there’s still much work to be done in preventing, say, a speeding Tesla from colliding with the rear of another Tesla that just entered the stream. One wonders how those tracking wheels hold up at speeds of 150 mph. Or even 100 mph, over a long time frame. Hopefully they’re more durable than a Tesla control arm.

To this writer, the only upside to Musk’s system is that, presumably, long-suffering taxpayers who struggle to make payments on their ’14 Corolla loan wouldn’t have to foot part of the bill, with the cost of construction recouped through those willing to use the damn thing. That’s right, Chicagoans — your link to O’Hare won’t cost a dime. Trust your elected officials.

Well, that’s Musk’s plan to take some of the heat off commuters. What’s yours?

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133 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Ridiculous Solution to Our Traffic Woes?...”


  • avatar
    AKM

    Being a northern European city dweller whose office is in the suburbs (8km from my home), the answer is fairly obviously a bicycle. Not quite ridiculous, that said.
    I have abandoned public transportation after getting sick 3x/year, a problem I never have with a bicycle.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Scooters.

      Cheap enough for the average Joe Schmoe to own. Cheap enough to run and insure. Small and maneuverable enough to wind their way through traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        And, if you’re looking at a 125-150cc model, you’re talking a vehicle that can outrun just about anything in normal commuter traffic.

        Besides, what real ‘Murican would be caught dead on a form of transportation where they provide their own power? Gotta have a Hemi, you know.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        My experience in Ho Chi Minh City showed me that putting masses of people on scooters is not a good idea, even when the weather is always fine.

        • 0 avatar
          mmreeses

          never rent a scooter in the developing world (if you’re paranoid about risk management like me).

          bad/dumb enough to do it in America/at home. then throw in unfamiliarity w/geography, local customs, etc.

          not worth the 1 in 1,000,000 chance of going home in a plywood box.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Low speed vehicles, consuming a lane of traffic, will ease traffic? I think not.

  • avatar
    Jon

    Work from home (job permitting). Convince your boss the you will be more productive at home three days a week (and then be more productive). Come to the office/lab for meetings twice a week. Show your boss how much money he will save on rent by allowing his employees to work from home.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      Almost 20 years ago, IBM put out an ad where Avery Brooks complains “It’s the year 2000 so where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!” and then goes on to say that we don’t need flying cars because telecommuting is the way of the future.

      Well, here we are in the future’s future. By comparison, the average desktop computer we have today is a super computer compared to what was available when that ad came out. High speed internet is also much more ubiquitous. We were supposed to have completely paperless, fully electronic offices too. It’s not the technology that’s lacking. It’s the leadership.

      Mandatory telecommuting would not only reduce traffic but pollution as well and save fuel in the process.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinB

      As a long-time supervisor I can tell you that telecommuting is a partial solution at best and needs to be decided per individual. I have let some of my folks telecommute because i knew they would actually work. Then there were the others whom I literally had to plan their day and hope they got half of the work done before the end of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      DanDotDan

      I agree with this so much, but must reject your solution because it’s not ridiculous.

  • avatar
    haroldhill

    Narrow cars for commuting. Repaint freeway lines with different colored paint for the rush hour, and then 2 lanes become 3 lanes. 50% capacity increase for the cost of the paint, increased fuel efficiency from narrower cars and steadier driving, increased parking capacity in cities, reduced chance of hitting pedestrians (narrower front profile…).

    Lanes are currently designed to accommodate semi’s; commuting cars wouldn’t have to be much narrower than subcompacts are now.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Yeah, let’s replace 300 million cars, that’s the ticket……

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Kei cars for the win!

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          To me this seems not at all crazy.

          I remember the smart-alec Smart car booth a couple years ago, where it was only a couple feet wide and held each model of Smart. Not a fan of the car, but the demonstration of how you could be perfectly comfortable taking up a lot less pavement was really obvious.

          I commute between huge trucks and SUV’s twice-a-day, all filled with one cell-phone user. I would love to have a Spark-size vehicle for the commute and a family truckster at home, but the arms race compels me to have enough metal to have some hope of surviving the distracted tailgaters. The fuel-price crash means this idea probably is a bit daffy for now. Plus, even more people would probably just pack the dang road again anyhow.

    • 0 avatar
      afedaken

      Ya know, I wonder if we could reduce traffic significantly by restricting long distance freight traffic to overnight hours?

    • 0 avatar

      This, except that I’d go all the way down to half-width.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      If you narrow the lanes, where do the Semi trucks, School buses, Class B trucks, etc. drive? There’s an estimated 15.5 million trucks on the road, and 2 million of that is semi trucks.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    20+ years ago I left Atlanta. This alone solved like 90 percent of the traffic issues from my perspective.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    For me the only time I ever hit traffic is on the occasional weekend I decide to go with my family shopping. Work is never an issue because I don’t have to be on the roads at either ends of rush hour. I may spend 30 minutes a month in stop and go traffic at most. And I drove over 25,000 miles last year.

    As far as rush hour traffic solution goes seems to me the best way to fix the issue is within the company either coming in 2 hours earlier or 2 hours later.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Self driving cars. They would understand how to merge zipper style. No more ‘road rage’ incidents. They wouldn’t get caught in the middle of an intersection, preventing perpendicular traffic from moving. And eventually they would reduce traffic collisions which can tie up traffic for hours.

    Of course the easier answer is to emulate more ‘sophisticated’ cities and actually develop and fund fast, efficient, reliable public transit systems. In many European cities, the use of public transit is not restricted to the ‘working classes’ and is considered the norm.

    Failing that, change traffic rules in major metropolitan areas to prevent any large trucks from using the major commuter roads during ‘rush hour’. Each large tractor/trailer uses approximately the same road space as 3 cars. That would free up a considerable amount of room.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Public transit only works where there’s high population density. You need that tax and user base to support it. Most of America cannot support it.

      Autonomous vehicles are the panacea for suburban public transportation, as they can scale with population and don’t need to be tied to routes or even schedules.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        True, however urbanization is escalating in the USA. The growth of ‘mega’ cities is continuing. Any city with a population base of 1 million or more should be able to sustain a public transit system.

        Here is just one excerpt from a study by the Grayline Group:

        “Today, 82% of North Americans live in urban areas and are increasingly concentrating in mid-sized and large cities. In 2010 41 urban areas in the United States housed more than 1 million people, up from 12 areas in 1950 and projected to grow to 53 by 2030.”

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Population and population density are different things. I live in a city with a bigger population than Manhattan. But Manhattan crams about 25x more people into a given area. That’s 25x more people able to fund and utilize all their public transit. And they STILL can’t adequately fund it.

          It’s one thing to have the option of public transit. But for it to be comprehensive, reliable and affordable enough for people to use it 100% and ditch their cars is an entirely different thing. I grew up in NYC and spent my last few years there in Manhattan. I didn’t have a car there, but I did wind up getting a motorcycle just so my wife and I could do weekend trips and some errands more easily. I rode it and bicycles to work in Midtown as well, in part because one of the train lines we used was a nightmare in the morning.

          So we have to compare apples to apples. Transit advocates always love to compare the best theoretical public transportation solutions with real world traffic, which isn’t really fair. I think public transit could help in some cities, but it’s a case by case thing they have to examine on their own.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            However Manhattan is a borough not a city and therefore has no control over the funding or operation of the mass public transit that runs through its confines.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Not having complete control is not the same as having no control, and is irrelevant to my point. If anything it could be argued that Manhattan gets too many of the public transportation dollars which has created a self-fulfilling prophecy. But in the end I think the main reason Manhattan has the bulk of public transportation infrastructure is because that is the borough where it made the most sense to deploy it. I grew up on the outskirts of Queens and there’s no logical affordable way to deploy public transportation, which is part of why there aren’t any bus stops within a mile of my old house.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            There are also governance issues when transportation solutions cover multiple jurisdictions. New York City is a great example. They built an insanely long and expensive bridge when they could have built it much cheaper over a narrower part of the waterway a short hop down the road, due to jurisdictional issues. They can’t fund their subway properly because the state government (which pays attention to the rural areas) likes to stick it to the big-city government. And contracting is riddled with needless overspending for reasons too numerous to mention.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Public transit only SEEMS to need high population density because North Americans choose to spend 20 times as much money each on private cars as they do on transit. This ratio does not take into account the value of the land needed to accommodate and park cars, nor does it factor in the pollution cost of car-based transportation.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          +1, brandloyalty. Furthermore, I’ve lived in more than one neighborhood where public transportation preceded ANY population density. There’s an odd belief among the B&B that God created the heavens and the earth and areas that can never have viable public transportation.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          But the land needed to accommodate and park cars is already here. How do you propose we better utilize the land allocated to residential streets, driveways and garages? Can you point to any examples of areas with American style suburban sprawl that have highly utilized public transportation systems?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @sporty, the cost of creating parking spaces is astronomical. Here in Toronto, most large condos now have limited underground parking. Parking spots can sell for $50k plus.

            Street parking is not allowed during the day on any major street, as it interferes with the flow of traffic.

            On smaller streets, street parking increases the time/effort/cost of garbage/waste removal and street cleaning.

            At night, street parking compromises snow plowing/removal and therefore is also restricted.

            Most residential streets in major urban centres were not designed for large scale street parking.

            And the land once used for above ground parking is now far to valuable for use as residential (condo) or commercial use to be left to remain as parking lots.

            As to your other question, what of NYC, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, etc all of which have widely used public transit systems. How spread out is Toronto? Well in the north-east corner there are still working farms within the city limits.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            Arthur and brandloyalty are right. The only way to efficiently move large numbers of people in urban areas is public transit. City after city in the US has shown that it is impossible to build enough roads fast enough to accommodate vehicle demand.

            As one example, when we lived in Atlanta the Outer Perimeter was under consideration. Planning studies showed that it would be overloaded as soon as it was built, without reducing the load on existing freeways, and so would not contribute to solving Atlanta’s traffic problems. The project was cancelled.

            Meanwhile, in Toronto the TTC (which is frankly an underdeveloped system) moves more than a million people per day. Trying to move those people in private cars on surface roads would cause societal breakdown.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            You guys are confusing a lot of issues. For starters there are definitely varying degrees of urban. NYC is 10x more urban than Charlotte, but Charlotte still fits the official definition (over 1000 people per square mile). Solutions that work for 10 or 20 thousand people per square mile are going to be different than solutions for 1 to 2 thousand… can we at least agree on that?

            And mismanagement will torpedo anything. The idea that the governments that mismanaged the growth of cities like Toronto will successfully manage implementing public transportation in the same city is not realistic. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t think government can do anything right but the transit advocates here are not being realistic in how public transportation would actually go.

            I mean the MTA is currently in a state of emergency. They had to shut down the L train and every subway line is in various states of disrepair in need of serious investment. So to a large degree NYC has traded one set of problems for another. Are there places in the US where public transit can help? Sure, but the notion that public transit can replace cars for much of America is, again, nowhere near realistic.

    • 0 avatar
      brettucks

      one major benefit of autonomous cars (that communicate) is they can also act like one big car. The minute the first car moves the rest also move (dont have to create the ‘safety gap’ that everyone instantly invades). This would likely double the amount of cars going through on a signal light cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Sporty: The government is not to blame as much as the type of government. For example Toronto had one of the finest public transit systems on the planet for much of the 20th century. In the early 1970’s it was even able to massively decrease the fees that it charged riders, for by example eliminating the zone system.

        It became so efficient when the existing private companies were converted into a publicly run/owned system.

        However the election of a ‘hard right’ provincial government in the 1990’s resulted in massive funding cuts. The Harris government even went so far as to fill in the tunnels that was being dug for a new subway system.

        There are other examples of public transit systems in North America being starved for funds.

        As per most demographic studies the large North American cities are only going to attract increasing percentages of the population. Urban densities will increase. North American cities will start to look more ‘European’. We will/are witnessing the return of the ‘city state’ where cities will be more important than the state/province or in some instances the nation that they belong to.

        And the only way to move the population efficiently, using current technology in such environments is through public transit. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a climate temperate enough to allow for mass bicycle usage.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      The question did say “ridiculous”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Change the times you go in and leave if you can. I shifted my work day an hour early and it’s worked great. No traffic in the morning and I usually get a really good parking spot after lunch.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    For interstate highways that go through major metro areas, add an upper deck with few or no offramps. Examples: I-95 in Jacksonville, FL; I-70 and I-55 in St. Louis; I-71 and I-70 in Columbus, OH. All the long-haul trucks and drivers just passing through town would take the upper deck, while all the local traffic would take the lower deck.

    Expensive? Sure. But when has that ever stopped a Federal project?

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Expensive, and traffic problems cannot be solved by building more roads. Stacked roads are also ugly and severely degrade communities.

      Amazing that some people advocate these things and also complain about the noise and visual pollution of wind turbines. Not necessarily you.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Building more roads/increasing capacity on existing roads is the ONLY thing that will fix traffic problems.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          Traffic engineers disagree. They say more road capacity just attracts more cars and traffic doesn’t improve at all. That seems counterintuitive, but I can think of an example. In L.A. they narrowed the freeway lanes to squeeze in one or two extra lanes. This seems like a good idea except that trucks can barely fit and inattentive drivers are constantly drifting and causing accidents: if trucks have to slow down for safety and traffic slows down to pull around wrecks, is traffic moving any better?

          On the other hand I can think of plenty of suburbs with weirdly overscale yet lightly-traveled roads—enough lanes for L.A. but out in farm-and-tract-house country.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        This has been the Washington state philosophy for the last few decades. Reduce capacity and traffic will shrink. Somehow in communist Utopia this hasn’t happened. We need to get the people that think this way out of office ASAP. I was in Boise a few months ago. They have 4 freeway lanes because with the population influx they are experiencing, they want to be ready. This is how government should work.

        Public transportation is only part of the answer. If properly designed, it can work for people to get into and around a downtown area. Distances are too big, and densities are too small in suburbs to sustain transportation networks that don’t go downtown. Urban planning needs some common sense, instead of pie in the sky ideas that an 8 year old could explain why they don’t work. We need to stop treating the idiots that people like brandloyaty warship as geniuses who control urban development, and expose them for the frauds that they are. Extra capacity is the only solution. We also need to stop accepting that the finances aren’t there. As the population increases, so does the tax base. The money is there, it’s just being spent on clean needles and not for the good of the actual taxpayer.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Except the majority of major cities that people are migrating too are already ‘built up’ and therefore have zero space for new or enlarged roads.

          And building new utopian cities like Brasilia rarely works. In fact creating these new cities is something that was favoured in nations with centrally regulated economies.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            That’s where solutions like elevated roadways and tunnels come in. I’m not a big Musk fan, but he’s right about needing a 3D solution to a 3D problem. You can’t have tall buildings and 2D roadways. See Asia for how it’s done. We’ve become way to complacent with accepting the excuses of the corrupt and incompetent.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          So more roads and wider roads? It’s a solution only Robert Moses would love.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Again such mega projects are generally only successful in nations with centrally controlled economies.

            In North America the prime example of such a project ‘gone wrong’ is the Boston Big Dig. Construction took 15 years and cost $22 Billion. Not to mention the disruption created by the construction.

            Similar albeit smaller projects in Sydney and Dublin resulted in the bankruptcies of the organizations initially responsible for them.

            Seattle is currently completing a 2 mile tunnel.

            If you are going to dig under a city, it is much more cost effective to install a subway line that to build a road.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Elevated highways were tried and found to be a terrible solution.

            New York I believe converted part of theirs to a park?
            Boston got rid of one.
            And in Toronto the Gardinder is an eyesore, a maintenance disaster and the vast majority would love to see it dismantled, however there is no place to divert the traffic that currently uses it.

            The TTC (Toronto) has approximately 2.5 million rides on a weekday.
            The Paris Metro 4.5 million.
            The London Tube 5 million.

            Without those systems what would traffic on those cities be like?

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          The one thing I can say Spain has done really well, aside from ham sandwiches, is handling this dilemma. It creates limited-access or even car-free zones in beautiful historic central cities, hides parking underneath grand pedestrian plazas, and stuffs the entire freaking freeway underground through urban areas. Oh, and one other interesting twist: even in the suburbs they’ll simply ban left turns in places where they could back up traffic, paired with a little turnaround circle up the road in a less busy area.

      • 0 avatar
        Zipster

        Brandloyalty:

        Yes it is an interesting coincidence regarding those who find wind turbines offensive but not other elevated objects. Have you been to Boston since the Ted Williams tunnel was opened? Getting rid of the elevated highway absolutely transformed the city; now my favorite in this country.
        Perhaps our Australian readers can tell us about the fine public tranportation systems in Sydney and Melbourne.

        P

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      If it could be guaranteed that the money went to highways, I’d gladly pay $1/gallon tax. Good roads are not free. Fat chance here in Colorado, two different ballot measures for road improvements with what I considered near inconsequential taxes, were defeated.
      It always annoys me coming back from my annual out west road trip through states with less population than here, and cross the border and experience the crash, bounce, and roar of our roads.
      The upper deck idea is a good one.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    Making driving more expensive using new/higher fees and taxes, and spending the extra revenue on affordable, clean, and good quality public transportation.

    Clearly, there are people who don’t have any other option than to drive to work because they live in remote areas. These should be compensated for the extra spending. But most people don’t live in remote areas, so if they had public transportation, they should just use that.

    I live in a metropolitan area with bad public transportation and most of my colleagues drive to work although they live in the city.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    During peak hours, all green-lights for busiest major thoroughfares that can drain the city the most, or get vehicles in and out fast, no different than efficient flood-control channels.

    And of course left-turns anytime with flashing yellow-arrows.

    So coming out of side-streets, for those peak hours, right-turns only, effectively adding lanes to the cross-town freeways in the areas.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Banning turns does have a side effect of making people drive father and make more turns to reach their destination.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Making extra turns on side streets is a small price to pay if I can get in, around and out of the city quicker. But me making a right-turn feels like the right thing to do, instead of completely stopping the flow of traffic on a main street, affecting or slowing tens or hundreds of cars, especially if the light is changing just for me alone.

        But cars making more turns on meaningless streets doesn’t add more cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Denver has two routes where the stoplights are timed so one can catch the green light wave and go many, many blocks, I’d venture to say a mile or more sometimes non stop.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Yep. Timed signals are brilliant, especially when paired with the one-way street. Years ago my little city embraced the pairing. It designated several streets one-way going uptown and downtown and put them on timed signals: two lanes of traffic going the same direction, and if you obey the speed limit, you can quickly zip from north to south and back with little or no stopping. One block over from each of these is found another one-way street going the other way, but without traffic lights and with the second lane given over to bicycles, so you also have a (very leisurely) bicycle highway of sorts. All the one-way streets drive tourists nuts but together with the timed signals they have made it pretty quick and effortless for locals to get anywhere by car or bike.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Pretty much the same in my hometown of Springfield, Ohio. The major streets through town were converted to one-way in the late ’40s – early ’50s. The lights on the one-ways through town were timed at about 25mph. When the town died off in the early 2000’s some of the one-ways returned to two-way. It confused the hell out of me when I returned for a visit…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The solution? Judgment Day might do the trick.

    youtube.com/watch?v=ZQz91Cx0Ato

    But seriously…
    1) More transit
    2) More telecommuting

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Ban automatics; medical exemptions only.

  • avatar
    heycarp

    Obama was right –
    Actual campaign statement –
    ” we need 10$ /gal fuel “

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      BullSh#t
      All that ever did was allow you andyoursocialistic buddies to get more money into the government hands.
      NEVER has the government taken sin and social engineering taxes and then used them where previous taxes were used, thus reducing taxation.

      its always been a lie, just like the lottery was when first introduced as a means to lower school taxes! instead, they used the earlier school tax for other government crap.

      don’t even think that.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Dunno what state you’re in, but in mine, the lottery was never sold as a means to lower school taxes. It was actually sold as a backfill to make up for tax revenue that was lost after a property tax revolt capped the property taxes that pay for school. Senior citizens’ kids were grown and they didn’t want to pay for schools. Wealthy WASPs sent their kids to private schools to keep them out of integrated public schools and they didn’t want to pay for schools for the minority kids left behind. Alas, a) the lottery never came close to filling that gap, and b) a lottery is essentially a tax on the desperate and/or stupid, which is pretty ethically dubious.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Tax the $h!t out of gas. Fewer cars and large vehicles on the road and then use the revenue to improve/modernize our infrastructure and upgrade public transit. Oh, and offer tax breaks to companies that utilize “green” transportation methods to offset rising prices on consumer goods.

    Want that brodozer? That’s your right as an American, but you’ll have to pay up.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I rather dislike the idea of taxing car drivers/owners to fund other transportation infrastructure.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Non-drivers probably don’t like sharing the cost of maintaining the enormous amount of infrastructure that supports cars either, and they certainly don’t deserve to suffer the health effects of their emissions. I’d say it evens out.

  • avatar
    tonyd

    1 congestion pricing

    2 make it easier to buy/lease insure a rideshare LLC for 4 people to ride to work in luxury.

    3 ban all class 8 otr trucks >60,000 lbs from 5AM to 8PM.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The only practical answer is to make inefficient commuting more expensive ( I.e. single passenger vehicles, driving during rush hour) and use that revenue to make efficient commuting (mass transit) cheaper and more convenient. Not rocket science, but impossible for most politicians.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    Put cameras on every traffic light and fine everyone who
    – runs the red light
    – blocks the intersection
    – doesn’t use blinkers

    Don’t fine speeders, as they just make traffic more efficient!

    In my city most jams are due to people blocking intersections. I mean, people are so dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Just to add to that, we need to shame the slow and oblivious more. There’s safe driving, and then there are those who obstruct the natural flow of traffic, and we’re collectively far too polite to them.

      Also, no accommodations for anyone who misses their turn or exit. Don’t let them screw up traffic, they can go around the block or take the next exit and figure it out.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        Arrested adolescents haven’t *quite* taken over yet; give society another five years or so to further degenerate.

        • 0 avatar
          Charliej

          Personally, I do not think that the younger generation will do too bad. I am an old fart, older than the baby boomers and our generation has not done so well. The older folks put a moron in the White House and now we have a truly disfunctional system of government. I don’t think the younger generation will make that mistake again.

          When it comes to commuting, I always rode a motorcycle. I rode from age fourteen till I retired at sixty six. A motorcycle will make commuting a pleasure instead of a slog.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      In my city if you don’t block the intersection you’ll probably never get anywhere, which of course is how the city of Seattle wants it. Now they want block the box cameras so they can further profit from their choice to make streets impassible and chase people out of the city.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Speeders, and their ilk, the lane dodgers, do not make traffic more efficient. They do just the opposite. The faster the traffic, the greater gaps required. Speeders increase the number of lane changes, both by themselves and by others trying to get out of their way. A lane change forces the drivers behind to brake, sometimes suddenly, to maintain safe gaps and moves them backwards in the queue. Speeders and lane dodgers destabilize traffic.

      The result is that everyone drives closer together to prevent lane changes. Which directly results in both the waves of stop-and-go traffic, and rear end collisions. Which really foul things up.

      I wish that the forward collision warning in my car automatically uploaded to the police video and a picture of the license plate of any driver cutting in front of me in a way that sets it off.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        So the problem is not high speed or low speed. The problem is speed differential. Lanes with assigned speeds could help this problem.

        • 0 avatar
          James2

          “Lanes with assigned speeds could help this problem.”

          I would like our DOT to think about this and experiment –the left lane would be 75, with a 5/10-mph reduction for every lane to the right, so on a 6-lane freeway it would go like this: 75, 70, 65, 60, 55, 50. It would force the slowpokes over to a lane they would be more comfortable with, while faster drivers would get past more easily.

          It will never happen here in Hawaii, however, as our DOT is run by people with zero imagination. They don’t even want to spend hundreds of million$ of federal money they’re ALREADY been given on new/expanding/fixing roads.

          One former governor had to force them to raise the speed limit to 65 mph on one stretch of freeway, only to see the limit drop back to 55 when that stretch “ended”. They do studies which show the average freeway speed is ~15 mph above the posted limit and it *never* occurs to them that the limit might be too low.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      or how about, and this is really stunning, we use modern tech!! we can for once use electronics to see what street light needs be on green long and allow traffic to keep moving instead of JUST changing according to a regular if=diot planned time.
      how many times do you see a mass of cars stopped JUST because one car was sitting at a light or it was simply the regulated time to turn???
      how about the system taking in the time of day and allowing for main streets to run green longer?
      there are a hundred ways but our city services is full of union employees that never get trained or educated in modern systems.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        My company works in transportation infrastructure. The design, construct and programs traffics structures. I do not work in this part of the company but I have been around it enough to know a little about how it works.

        Most traffic light systems are run on some sort of PAC system. While almost infinitely programmable, these systems are VERY expensive to upgrade. Adding sensors to detect traffic is a huge upgrade that requires expensive programming and money. Changing old traffic control algorithms that take into account date, time, vehicle presence and/or street loads requires extensive data collection, analysis and testing. Connecting PAC’s to a “traffic control center” requires VERY expensive fiber optic cabling, programming and network security measures.

        Unfortunately is not as simple as “using modern tech” because using modern tech is EXPENSIVE.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          too expensive to eliminate or lessen traffic jams and to save millions in fuel and smog?

          but then again, i come from the trump school of saving money for welfare and such by building a wall for a tiny fraction (redundant?) of the wall cost.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            When the cost per street/intersection is from tens of thousands to millions, then the answer is -its expensive. Im not saying the expense it too big or small. It just stating what it is. Because of the high expense, city planners, mayors and engineers upgrade a few intersections at a time. So its a slow process.

            I like my freedom and i dont care to live a socialist utopia like some of folks here. I dont want to raise taxes because we all know that politicians will use the money to line their own pockets or gain additional power. They will not use it for the common good of the people. When it comes to traffic, Id prefer to have my money and freedom and deal with the consequences (traffic).

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        You don’t even need modern technology. In 2003 our bus drivers went out on strike. To cope with the situation the traffic engineers modified the signal timing to improve the flow, especially on the main drags. It worked; my commute home was never faster.

        BUT because improved traffic flow doesn’t help sell taxpayers on the “We need a train” mantra they went back to the old, snail-like, obstructionist signal timing and have never looked back.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Subsidize flying cars.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Build more roads/lanes.

    Sounds stupidly simple, but there is a large enough contingent of activists that wants to make traffic miserable to force people into mass transit for environmental reasons. California is a good example.

    In other states, they also tie any spending on roads that DOES have popular support with monorail-type boondoggles that voters often reject them. Have separate votes for pure road building and you would see less traffic. Less congestion is also better for the environment, but activists have a delusional fantasy if they make traffic bad enough everyone will abandon their car. Instead you have miserable commuters and more pollution.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      California recently declared the obvious, which is that traffic problems cannot be solved by building more roads. “Activists” actually are the people who figure things out first.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The only thing obvious, is that you are 100% incorrect. The people that are “figuring things out” have been the same ones causing the issues for decades. It’s giving the arsonist the responsibility of putting out his own fire.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Why are ‘activists’ still advocating for mass transit, something that has failed to operate for any rate users are willing to pay in almost every place it has been imposed on the public? Misanthropes have been trotting out the more roads=more traffic myth for long enough that we don’t have nearly the road network that we need today. Their only argument ignores that the increased traffic they’re decrying is composed of people engaged in economic activities that enrich people at every level of society, even if they inconvenience the elite and entitled.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Activists are usually the people that don’t have real jobs and don’t have to live with the consequences of what they suggest. High taxes and regulations, and long commutes don’t matter if your only job is being a George Soros professional protester living in your mom’s basement until your next “gig”. And yes we should all copy California since they are have the magic combination of very high taxes, very high regulations, very poor public services and infrastructure, and sky high government deficits. No wonder the middle class is leaving the California sunshine and beaches in droves.

    • 0 avatar

      And you have just described what “vision zero” did to NYC. Remove a lane, make a bike path, used by very few folks as a percentage, and oh, “zero” in winter. This, along with a restripe of lanes, and expensive “muni meters” have made driving in NYC much more difficult. Bonus were stoplights that had been previously timed for maximum throughput are now re programmed to enforce the 25 mph speed limit. We can look forward to another goal of the bike crazies, Congestion Pricing, the idea being to pay for the subway renovation. The problem here is that the subways are a money pit….they are already very subsidized by the bridge tolls ($10 or so) that people pay already…so I pay for the subway every time I go to long island from upstate. Congestion Tax won’t do jack for manhattan traffic, it will serve as a commuter tax-and will serve to enrichen real estate interests inside the congestion zone. Meanwhile, we enjoy the same roadways our grandfathers cruised in their 1964 Imperials. The more radical go on rants about ‘subsidy’ of drivers being free parking, and demand to make the whole city car-free. Any camera enforcement for any issue is also good. Removal of intersection pass throughs is a religious goal. The city uses them for political cover for Camera enforcement (the people want it !), not (it makes us a lot of money from out of towners).

      More dangerous is that these forces are trying to get reasonable speed limit rules like the 85th percentile rule written out of engineering textbooks.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Outlaw Uber and Lyft. Seriously almost every day I’m in the city I get stuck behind someone dropping off or picking up by stopping in the middle of a busy street and thus stopping traffic.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    Live as close as you can to your workplace.

    The better solution is to abandon big cities in favor of small towns.

    The best solution is: have a very portable skill (nurse, electrician,
    medical tech of some sort, etc.), don’t marry, don’t have children.
    This will allow you to go wherever whenever.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Go to any major European city at rush hour and see all the cars stuck in traffic , but how can that be when they already have $10 per gallon gasoline, often have major tolls to enter cities (and expensive parking), frequently have very good public transit, and often have well designed bike lanes? The answer is that even well designed public transit takes a lot longer to get places for most people than driving, especially if they do things like stop to shop on the way home, or pick up kids from daycare or school, or have unpredictable schedules – and public transit is often expensive and still runs deficits. Bike commuting only seem to attract very fit 18 to 40 year old white men – especially in winter or cold or rain, so what do we do with the other 95% of people? And for those that want to raise fuel taxes – you might note what happened in France recently when the government tried to raise fuel taxes even higher? So basically nothing anyone has suggested will work except for building more and better roads and hoping self-driving cars happen sooner than later, because most people will not give up driving their cars except perhaps if the car drives itself.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Stop making sense and living in reality. We need fewer lanes and traffic will improve. Just ask a few of the people above. They’ll explain it to you.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      True. Although that doesn’t necessarily translate elsewhere if said city was built in medieval times before people had cars, or even oxcarts. There are places you can’t really add roads without knocking down treasured history.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Quit work. Bamo! no more commute.

  • avatar
    DavesNotHere

    Here is a book recommendation for all TTAC readers – Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What That Says About Us. It is a thought-provoking read about traffic planning that effectively demolishes certain ‘common sense’ solutions. especially the shibboleth that building more roads will solve congestion.

    https://www.amazon.com/Traffic-Drive-What-Says-About/dp/0307277194

    Beyond the suggestions above, I would push for lane restrictions for trucks half ton and above, keeping them out of the left lanes. Also I would mandate driver education at regular intervals as a condition to renew a driver’s license, and make this a yearly or bi-yearly requirement for the elderly. Driving is not a right, and there need to be higher standards enacted to retain the privilege of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      “half ton and above”

      How about 1.25 ton and above, trucks with trailers, hybrids, Subarus, Fiats, and anyone driving a Lexus? This list could vary per region. In phoenix, the above list is the majority of the drivers that cruise in the passing line.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    For openers, slap a $3 / gallon tax on motor fuel.

    That will cut a lot of traffic.

    Then we can see what, if anything needs to be addressed next.

    Use the money to repair the road, and/or replace the really rotten ones with concrete built to autobahn standards (costs more up front, but lasts longer and costs less overall).

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    Government sponsored population control. Give everyone a free vasectomy and a one check for $1500 for doing it.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Near big cites you are screwed….absolutely screwed like a molecule of water in high/low tides…

  • avatar
    AnalogXer

    3 ideas off the top of my head, out my backside, you pick. From mundane to insane:

    1) Give companies incentives(tax breaks) for telecommuting and job sharing. Is anybody really surprised that companies don’t adopt telecommuting at a higher rate? What’s in it for them?

    2) Develop a business model that lets tech startups lease work and living space on cruise ships.

    3) Develop car carriers and flat bed rail transportation that can collect cars in the suburbs and transport them to city centers or other cities. This would obviously work better if car size had a reason to trend to smaller.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Timing of stop lights to keep traffic flowing can greatly increase the carrying capacity of surface streets.
    Building in areas with excessive population density needs to be slowed way down. Cities want more property tax revenues, which makes for disastrous regional planning.
    Increase family planning education and services.
    Identify and remove bottlenecks (freeway merges, for example).
    Ring roads to go around cities instead of through them.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    Ridiculous solution. instead of speed cams, passing cams.

    You get fined $1 every time you get passed by someone on your right if the flow of traffic is more than 50 mph and you’re not in the right-most lane.

    up to a max of $5 per day.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    My ridiculous solution is to build roads, all of which are required by law to adhere to a ratio of roads to licensed vehicles THAT EXISTED 10 YEARS AGO, and if the politicians slag off the commitment into the future, which IS our ongoing problem, rather than commencing road building to match the # of vehicles, there is an automatic loss of job and jail sentence for the politician.

    There you go, forced listening. What a concept.

  • avatar
    brn

    Stop removing car lanes for the purpose of building bike lanes that never get used!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Our idiot, car-hating mayor not only wants to bankrupt the island with a train ($10 billion to go 20 miles, and that’s just building the damn thing) he’s also gotten rid of, at last count, 3 lanes on 3 main drags to install ‘protected’ bike lanes. The first time he took away a lane he called it an “experiment” but proceeded to do further experimentation without seeing if it was a success. It’s not.

    • 0 avatar

      NYC is perfect for this. They took a lane out-restricted parking and moved the lane into lane two. Now, a five lane road is a three lane road. Add two trucks loading and unloading and now you’ve turned a major avenue in the greatest city in the world into a one and a half lane mess.

      for the bicycle national socialists, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        Why do you hate bicyclists so much. You should be doing everything you can to encourage more people to ride bicycles. Every bicycle being ridden to work is one less car on the road. You get enough people riding bicycles and you have all the room you want for your car or truck. By the way if you want to talk about socialists look at the republicans kissing Putin’s butt.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          I’ve no problem with bicyclists. However, my observation is that they REMOVE car lanes to create bike lanes that get minimal use. It’s counter productive.

          If the bike lanes were full, I’d champion the cause to build more!

  • avatar
    James2

    Disclaimer: This is not my idea. It was floated by a former mayoral candidate who just happened to be a professor of transportation engineering.

    You have a main street with several major intersections. Instead of clogging up traffic flow with red lights at each intersection you “weave” the streets: one street goes under the other.

    The winning mayoral candidate, however, parroted the conventional wisdom: build a train. The price tag of this folly has only doubled since construction began to $10 billion –and they freely admit to being incompetent (i.e. they don’t really know the final price) and nobody’s even talking about the hundreds of million$ it will cost to operate the beast annually.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      This is how things are handles in Guadalajara, Mexico. The north south main streets dive into a tunnel where they cross the east west main streets. If you are on a main street you do not have to stop in the downtown area. They also have a number of trains and more buses than you can imagine. It all seems to work though. This is a city with a metro area of over seven million people. In the village that I live in, thirty miles south of Guadalajara, there are buses every five minutes. We don’t need buses for our town. It is less than a mile square. The buses take passengers to the towns nearby. They are always full too. Bus fare is seven pesos or thirty five cents. For that you can ride from the farthest west city to the farthest east city. For twenty pesos, about a dollar you can ride to Guadalajara. Down here cars, buses and trains all work together to move the population.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Corporate America (and the Gubmint)need to radically rethink where their employees work. A 30 story corporate headquarters in downtown capital city? Couldn’t at least 15 of those stories and the employees be relocated to mid-size city a hundred miles away? How many government headquarters need to be physically located in Washington D.C? Couldn’t Terre Haute or Valdosta work just as well. Perhaps only “Headquarters Types” need to located in capital city or Capital City.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Logical. But corporations like Amazon have found that smart, ambitious young people want to work in the exciting big city. If your business model is suck em in, use em up, spit em out…that does the trick. They’ll pretend for a while that they’re willing to open HQ2 in the heartland to try to squeeze out bigger tax breaks, but they know where they want to be.

      Fedgov does a semi-good job of sticking people in the field: if your federal job relates to cleaning up mining waste in Montana, you’re probably in Montana. But they could probably do more. For decades, states have used universities to drive development in the hinterlands; fedgov could use agencies the same way. But the distance from elected decision-makers would probably not be good for the agency’s future. And it would make it even harder to get that same pool of smart, ambitious young people to choose public service instead of a flashy high-paid tech job.

  • avatar
    AtoB

    QOTD: What’s Your Ridiculous Solution to Our Traffic Woes?

    Since you asked…

    1) Quit your job. Boom, no more commuting. Short of that demand to telecommute a few days a week.

    2) Don’t have kids. Boom, no more school runs, no field trips, fewer people on the roads in 20 years. If your religion pressures you to procreate remember there are already 7.6 BILLION people on this planet, more than at any time in history and your kids will demand a resource intensive first world lifestyle. The world will do better without your progeny. If you really feel the need to have kids adopt or foster instead.

    3) Don’t buy so much crap. Boom, fewer delivery trucks on the road, less junk weighing down your life.

    4) Go out less, stay home more. Your couch, refrigerator and TV miss you.

    5) STOP RUBBERNECKING!!! Yes I am talking to you! As you pass a misfortune do your best to clear the area as quickly and safely as possible. Slow down to “see whats going on” and YOU are now the problem.

    6) Retire to a rural area, preferably in a country where your retirement will go further and healthcare is much more affordable.

    7) If you buy a vehicle buy one for 95% of your actual lifestyle, not the lifestyle you want others to imagine you have. Rent appropriate vehicles for the other 5%. Don’t buy a Ford F150 because you *might* need to move a refrigerator someday.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    How to solve traffic: don’t force every person in America to carry a two-ton metal box, which takes up 200 square feet of land, just to leave their house.

    There just isn’t room for everyone to take up 200 square feet at all times while traveling among major destinations. We try anyway, and congestion is the result.

    Many of America’s central cities were denser and busier in 1910 than they are today, and yet traffic was a non-issue. In the intervening century, everything we’ve built has been under the expectation that everyone outside of a building is always in a car. That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because car-centered infrastructure makes existing outside of a car dangerous and scary. Adding more lanes just makes it worse, and doesn’t solve congestion either, as even the widest highway just can’t hold very many people at 200 sq ft/person.

    Those bike lanes people are complaining about in NYC are underused because they aren’t connected to anything. Biking outside of them is terrifying, entirely because of motor vehicles, and you can’t get anywhere only using the bike lanes. Where a comprehensive bike network that is safe from cars exists, people bike in overwhelming numbers in all weather. You can fit about 5 bikers in the space required by one car, and you can put bike infra much closer to pedestrians because light, slow bikes are much less deadly.

    But bikes aren’t the only thing that are unlocked when you stop designing for cars first. Transit becomes fast and effective in a way that no one in America understands. Walking for transportation stops being scary and deadly, and starts being a great way to connect with places and people around you.

    It’s a long, long, long way to get from the built form of America today to a place where people can exist outside cars. But it’s the only way to ameliorate traffic — doubling down on car-only existence, where everyone always takes up a bedroom’s worth of space while in transit, will just make it worse as the population grows.

    I own three cars. But I’m also fortunate enough to be in a city where I don’t have to use them for everything. I walk, bike, and take transit on an everyday basis, and I would do those things more — and take up even less roadway space — if they were safer on more trips.


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