A proposal to levy a half-cent sales tax for transportation infrastructure on November’s ballot is promising the money raised will do a lot of things from repairing roads to improving water quality and reducing wildfires.
One of those promises has really stood out. In the ballot language and in a video, the San Diego Association of Governments makes the claim the measure will relieve congestion. I decided to dig into that with a Fact Check.
This is a common claim among government agencies throughout the country and there’s no empirical evidence that it works.
“The notion that you can build your way out of congestion is just false,” Matthew Turner, an economist who co-authored one of the most cited studies on the topic told me.
I found SANDAG thinks of traffic relief differently than a typical commuter does. And while the measure will give you more options – like more public transit alternatives – to get off congested highways, if you continue to drive to work, the planned improvements to our transportation system probably won’t change the duration of your commute.
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Delayed comments because of travel; including peak hour traffic in mass transit oriented Montreal. Have a picture of traffic when one lane is assigned to bakes and bus stops. (Also same congestion causing move in Paris about a dozen years ago)
Apologies to Maya if in a quick scan of your excellent compilation, I have duplicated or goofed.
My take on the central question :
SANDAG, after spending over $200 Billion, including about $40 Billion capital for new and rehab mass transit implementing San Diego Forward, seems satisfied with minutes to work not changing from current 27 minutes.
Daily delay in peak hour traffic reduces from 10 to 9 minutes.
Somehow there is improvement though; 2050RTP showed about a 10% increase in time to work.
The reason adding lanes don't reduce congestion, but adds capacity, is the examples given are for roads that are highly overloaded in the first place. There is a match-p point, but we have so neglected the public preferred road expansion , we seldom get there. Thus a misleading argument by anti-auto activists.
Jack Shu and others should visit Buffalo NY to see a road system in peak period demand and capacity balance.
With managed lanes we are starting with about a 10% loss of throughputs. Caltrans computerized freeway performance measurements has the evidence. The TOTAL flow at PEAK DEMAND in dozens of managed/HOT lanes equipped freeways. But bus operators love them.
We are still suffering from the Governor's mid 1970s edict to build mass transit to absorb growth and reduce road expansion. Getting people back into the mass transit they rejected as early as the 1930s was suppose to be the only answer for needed clean up of that period's autos. Ignored was the simultaneous major clean car program that doubled MPG and vastly reduced emissions. Instead of mass transit, autos absorbed 95% of growth despite more congestion . We can't get mass transit use abovea near trivial 2%/4 % or so peak periods.
San Diego Forward shows autos absorbing at least ten times mass transit of travel growth.
And approach 20 times as cost-effective to reuce energy use aand associated emissions.
How on earth are we going to reduce congestion with more and more mass transit requiring nearly $40 Bullion capital plus O & M to absorb daily the near trivial 2 million passenger-mils out o100 million now, and needing to grow to 120 million at least?Providing about 2 million daily passenger-miles when the Region needsto add about 20 million. Having failed after 30 years, and 1/3rd the current sales tax just for mass transit, to get people back into trains and busses, the plan now is re-designed less auto friendly communities. The gamble is more nearby stations will attract more public use. And spend nearly 41% of the hoped for November ballot sales tax. nearly 60% is for all transportation. 75% of that would go to mass transit.
Why do we wonder why congestion increases?
See Appendix N tiny changes for the total Plan of over $200 Billion.
We can eliminate most funds for this obsolete approach, and the need for the November ballot sales tax, if leadership will support the new technology of on-call personal same road vehicle direct to destination system beginning to appear. All travelers, especially non-drivers now dependent on mass transit, can enjoy the on-call flexible autos. No more time consuming start stop transfer. The marketplace established on-call private vehicles as overwhelming urban travel preference. Usually called "Uber", with or without driver, its potential is the new form of Public Transportation for the Region.
Why rush to add funds for a failing concept that in concept will be over 150 years old as planned?
SANDAG has been and will continue to be the cause of our TRAFFIC PROBLEMS since they are beholden to those that profit from building ever more roads! Giving them more money will only result in getting more of the same "too little, too late" improvements just like we have gotten in the past decades, having spent many billions of dollars per year!
What is needed is a fundamental reorganization of SANDAG's membership and the percentage of what money is spent on, especially Active Transportation vs Highway building.
Example 1: SANDAG should fund a program that helps commuters purchase eBicycles to get single riders out of their cars because if they spent just a small percentage of what it cost to build just one mile of highway, they could enable THOUSANDS of commuters to stop using vehicles.
Example 2: SANDAG is not supporting electric vehicles because their owners do not pay road taxes at the pump, so just like the automobile dealers that make major profits on servicing vehicles with (not electric motors) gasoline/diesel engines, they do not push the sale of eVehicles at their Dealerships.