"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Houston Mayor: Texas Needs a New Transportation Paradigm


Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner:
TxDOT has noted that 97% of the Texans currently drive a single occupancy vehicle for their daily trips. One could conclude that our agencies should therefore focus their resources to support these kinds of trips. However, this approach is actually exacerbating our congestion problems. We need a paradigm shift in order to achieve the kind of mobility outcomes we desire.


The Katy Freeway, or Interstate 10 west of Houston, is the widest freeway in the world, with up to 26 lanes including frontage road lanes. The 2008 widening had a significant impact on the adjacent businesses and communities. Yet, despite all these lanes, in 2015 the section of this freeway near Beltway 8 was identified as the 8th most congested roadway in the state. This was only 7 years after being reconstructed! This example, and many others in Houston and around the state, have clearly demonstrated that the traditional strategy of adding capacity, especially single occupant vehicle capacity on the periphery of our urban areas, exacerbates urban congestion problems. These types of projects are not creating the kind of vibrant, economically strong cities that we all desire.


Tom said...

I've lived in New York, San Francisco, London, Turin, Shanghai and now Taipei. Transportation was worst in San Francisco, second worst in Turin. In both cases the lack of a good Metro contributed mightily to their problems. Both have since started building a Metro system. It will be interesting to see the results.

I believe the Katy freeway serves the George Bush International Airport. I would recommend planners look at the Heathrow Express for inspiration and perhaps use that as a starting point.

Michael Tobis said...

I don't really understand why tunnels are better than elevated systems, but it's clear to me that rapid transit solutions at grade with automobile traffic just can't possibly work at scale.

Where's my monorail?