Want Less Traffic? RAND Offers Help

Los Angeles has a traffic problem.

You've probably at some point noticed this, oui?

If not, then maybe it's because your car is moving so slowly at this very moment, as you scroll through this post on your Blackberry Storm, violating this law, that you probably think you're home already.

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Or, maybe it's because you're a dolphin.

In fact, far from being home, or home-free, or having flippers, it's no surprise to learn that if interrelated changes aren't made in transportation planning, then the metro areas' traffic woes will worsen. That said, there are relatively easy to implement, short-term solutions that could improve this mess.

Such is the news from, "Moving Los Angeles: Short Term Policy Options for Improving Transportation," a report released last fall by RAND, and available as a monograph with CD-ROM here, and summarized in a press release here.

The report offers 13 recommendations "? ten changes to make now, plus a trio that require further study. The suggested actions include adding dedicated bus lanes; raising fuel taxes; creating more one-way arteries; charging less for public transportation; and charging more for peak hour street parking "? with some of the extra money benefiting those affected retail districts (a favorite idea of UCLA's Prof. Donald Shoup.

The report doesn't call for an immediate, London-style implementation of congestion zone charges. But it does ask the following leading question:

"Will Los Angeles begin to pursue pricing to manage demand for peak-hour automotive travel, or will it instead simply allow congestion to worsen in the coming decades? These are the only choices."

For a bullet-point list of the 13 recommendations, view RAND's press release.

One last note: TTLA got to spend some time last fall with RAND's Sorenson, discussing the report. More on that conversation coming soon. One teaser: What Sorenson had to say was interesting enough to make this blog violate all known optional commuting norms and remain in Santa Monica even as the evening rush hour had begun.

Illustration copyright and courtesy Richard Nielsen, 2008

Traffic photo taken by flickr user Atwater Village Newbie. It was used under Creative Commons license.

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