RE: How to end traffic congestion

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From: Dan Kohn (
Date: Tue Mar 07 2000 - 18:15:16 PST

But that's why we need to PAY people for going at on-peak times. That's the
only solution to the demagoguery. (And it will still require a great PR
campaign to explain the benefits.)

                - dan

Daniel Kohn <>
tel:+1-425-602-6222  fax:+1-425-602-6223 

-----Original Message----- From: Rohit Khare [] Sent: Monday, 2000-03-06 18:19 To: Carey Lening; Subject: Re: How to end traffic congestion

>I errored in not being specific enough. I meant the areas (wash D.c. etc) >where the subway system is larger.

Even there, in particular, we can watch the success of arguably the #1 or #2 best subway in America, and it's not enough. It's great, especially for getting tourists off the street, but the real reaction has been to keep new development *outside* the beltway, in NoVa and out into maryland, where the highways do reach to. Turn US50 into an interstate-grade highway, and you might have a better chance of bringing real jobs into the city from College Park, say.

>take yourself out of the high >tech sector ) making Jack and shit, and they often have to do the lovely >commuting.

I suspect that we're not communicating about the ultima ratio -- whether such folks' lives -- including my life, for the forseeable future -- would be strictly enhanced by the kind of accurate costing Dan is proposing.

Initially, in particular, I can't change wages, but let's see where we can game the system out to. First off, postulate, as Dan did, that this is a zero-flux system: by charging a $2 premium in the morning, that same amount of money will be rebated back to its users during the rest of the day. Your goal, as traffic planner, is to smooth out the spikes in demand, and in return guaranteeing a constant, maximized throughput.

*Any* load over that optimal point makes everyone worse off.

Including our friend Jack.

Now, clearly not *everyone* has to be where they're going at 9:00AM sharp (those who do are already paying the price of uncertainty by getting up so early they arrive in an 8:30-9 window anyway). By enacting a transfer payment, the planner is attempting to sort out those who absolutely, positively have to get somewhere from those who can afford to shift their schedules a few minutes earlier or later.

Question: are the kinds of jobs that demand -- inherently, not just due to foreman meanness -- timeliness the same ones that can't pay for the $2? Stockbrokers, yes, shipping clerks, perhaps not.

Then Jack should be strictly better off under Dan's regime. Remember, all we're trying to do here is minimize the harm of traffic, not punish nor build new highways. At the same time, I can see how we're never going to get very far because our "democratic" impulses allow demagoguery to drag everyone's performance down with the mean.


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