Re: How to end traffic congestion

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2000 - 14:41:40 PST

At 1:55 PM -0800 3/6/00, Carey Lening wrote:
>And I fail
>to see how subsidizing public transportation is like subsidizing chewing gum
>for smokers. IT seems to work quite efficently in other states -- Esp. Back
>east where the reliance of independent car driving isn't so damn ingraned in
>the system. Attitudes have to change, but its not like it can't function.
>-Carey... a poor starving college student who couldnt' pay the toll.


The "East Coast" as many born-Californians seem to misapprehend, is
as rural as anywhere else in the country. It's a BIG continent, and
don't forget where the suburb was invented... it ain't Lakewood.
>The parts of this experience I hoped would be like Sky King have
>been far better than I imagined. No one whose idea of the aerial
>view is drawn solely from the airlines can imagine how fascinating
>the earth is when seen from less than a mile aloft. Elevations below
>1,000 feet are too close for comfort, but from there to 5,000 feet
>above ground level, you're close enough to see recognizable
>details--houses, farms, people on the street--and high enough to see
>connections and patterns simply invisible from ground level. The
>old, settled East Coast turns out to be amazingly rural, with
>pastures beginning a few minutes' flight out of Philadelphia or
>Boston. The Southwest is dumbfoundingly beautiful--and empty. You
>can fly for hours over territory containing no roads, trails or
>settlements, which makes you feel like the first person to see it
>(and makes you happy that you still have radio contact with
>air-traffic controllers, should anything go wrong). The view out the
>side of an Airbus is often ignorable, but it is an entirely
>different experience to look straight out from the cockpit at the
>scenery as you move through it. The soaring, swimming quality of
>small-plane flight is very much like that of childhood dreams. You
>feel as if you're moving in three dimensions through a fluid, like a
>diver, with the seabed below you and other creatures passing above
>and on the sides.

No matter how you slice it, public transportation requires a critical
settlement density far in excess of the American mean (or even
median). It is a solution for cities. And whatever one's lamentation
why LA isn't one such, it isn't. Try as I might, there is essentially
no condition under which my 100-mile journeys to Pasadena overlap
another citizen's to the point that organized infrastructure makes

One-citizen-one-car is so deeply embedded into the modern American
fabric as to *be* it. I kind of like that, but I say that as someone
who has *never* commuted to work. The 15,000+ miles per year I drive
are on my own schedule, by and large. What traffic I do see, though,
I agree completely with Dan Kohn about.

Make externalities internal, and the market will make short work of
distributing scarce resources.

Employers who are paying so close to the living wage would have to
tolerate the delays they themselves take advantage of speeding to
work in the morning.

And as for substitution effects, I rather like Dan's analogy: chewing
gum does not

1) resolve the essential addiction
2) eliminate public externalities like second-hand-gumshoe
3) reduce social-security costs, since gum-chewers live too long
4) does not become noticeably more desirable once subsidized (that
is, as I truly cherish the opportunity to recite, "demand for chewing
gum is inelastic" :-)
5) does not aim directly at the "problem class" since we'd subsidize
chewing gum for far more population segments than ex-smokers.

I leave it to the informed audience to see the applicability of 1-5
above to the Orange County MainLine rail alternatives (roughly, from
SantaAna or Fullerton to the Spectrum).


Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Mar 06 2000 - 14:42:56 PST