Solving Traffic Congestion
Building more roads to deal with congestion won’t work because of the increasing cost of real estate. In many urban areas roads consume the bulk of the space as it is. The solutions I think will work include:
- Taxing people for road use, especially in rush hour. This will discourage frivolous trips and encourage shifting trips out of rush hour where feasible, including commuting to work. You pay extra to use congested roads and congested times. You get a computerised, itemised bill once a month.
- Taxing people for driving with empty seats. They can car pool, pick up riders (everyone acts like a taxi if they want) or use a vehicle with fewer seats.
- Smaller, narrower, lighter vehicles, including partially or fully human powered. It should be possible to get three lanes of such traffic in the same space we now get one.
- Computer control the traffic lights and freeway access.
- Computer controlled vehicles. They are more attentive, so you can pack vehicles close together at least between computer-driven vehicles. To get maximum benefit, you must exclude human drivers, or put them in their own lane. Computers don’t do stupid things that lock up traffic. They let passengers do something entertaining or sleep.
- Telecommuting. You work from home and might only go into the office once a week. That office need not be downtown. It could be located in a commercial area closer to home. The meetings might even happen in a common room at one of the homes or apartments of the employees rotating to account for availability. For things like bulk printing you use a local printing service rather than maintaining an office with your own equipment.
The big problem fixing gridlock is primarily a political problem, not a technical one. Much as people hate gridlock, they are unwilling to make the tiniest sacrifice to be rid of it. They want other people to sacrifice, but not them. They will object to the congestion tax, object to losing the right to drive a car 100 times heavier than necessary to prove their manliness and wealth, object to losing the right to drive manually any way they please (e.g. rapidly changing lanes, which triggers freeze) and object to losing the right to have a permanent office away from home to escape to each day. When the gridlock pain gets bad enough, perhaps some cities will implement some of these ideas. Then tourists will see the advantages and take the ideas back home.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)