ACCESS 35, Fall 2009

Introduction: ACCESS Moves to LA

Michael Manville

With this issue, ACCESS moves from Berkeley to UCLA. Now that we are in Los Angeles, it is fitting that three of the five essays in this issue deal with freeways or traffic congestion. Freeway congestion is a hallmark of LA—a certainty like death and taxes, a source of frustration and resignation, and a convenient excuse for those of us who tend to be late.

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2017-05-26T23:39:56+00:00Categories: ACCESS 35, Fall 2009|

Traffic Congestion and Greenhouse Gases

Matthew Barth and Kanok Boriboonsomsin

Surface transportation in the United States is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a large contributor to global climate change. Roughly a third of America’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from moving people or goods, and 80 percent of these emissions are from cars and trucks. To reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, policy makers are primarily pushing for more efficient vehicles, alternative fuels, and reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Those who promote vehicle improvements have focused on building lighter and smaller vehicles (while maintaining safety), improving powertrain efficiency, and introducing alternative technologies such as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. Alternative fuel possibilities include many low-carbon options such as biofuels and synthetic fuels.

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2017-05-26T23:34:03+00:00Categories: ACCESS 35, Fall 2009|Tags: , |

Airport Congestion Management: Prices or Quantities?

Jan Brueckner

Air travel delays have hit new highs in the US since 2000, although passenger traffic and airport congestion have temporarily fallen during the current recession. Similar delays continue to plague European airlines. Although weather is a major source of delays, US Department of Transportation data show that the volume of traffic is also a major cause. What can be done about this airport congestion and the resulting delays?

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Moving Los Angeles

Paul Sorensen

People often complain about traffic in Los Angeles, and with good reason. The Texas Transportation Institute publishes annual traffic statistics for metropolitan areas across the United States, and the greater Los Angeles region routinely tops the list for such measures as total congestion delays and congestion delays per peak-period traveler. Against this backdrop, RAND was recently asked to evaluate and recommend near-term strategies that could meaningfully reduce LA’s traffic within a period of five years or less. Note that this timeframe precludes land use policies, which take longer to bear fruit, and major infrastructure investments. In addressing this question, we found it helpful (a) to review general insights from the transportation literature on the causes and potential cures for traffic congestion, and (b) to diagnose the specific local conditions that contribute to the notoriously severe congestion in Los Angeles.

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TOD and Carsharing: A Natural Marriage

Robert Cervero

Transit oriented development (TOD) is arguably the most cogent and acceptable form of smart growth. Almost everyone "gets" TOD. Politicians, professionals, and lay citizens alike understand that if there is any logical place to promote compact, mixed-use development, it is around transit stations. The benefits of TOD are largely borne out by empirical evidence. People who live near rail transit stops in the US have much higher rates of transit use than the typical resident of a rail-served region. In California, surveys show that residents who live near a transit station use transit for their commutes at a rate four to five times higher than residents of the same region who don’t live near stations. This pattern has held steady over time. In the case of the Pleasant Hill BART station, for instance, 47 percent of station-area residents took transit to work in 1993. Ten years later, in 2003, the share was 44 percent.

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Paved with Good Intentions: Fiscal Politics, Freeways and the 20th Century American City

Jeffrey R. Brown, Eric A. Morris, and Brian D. Taylor

Stuck in traffic in Washington, DC in 1959, President Eisenhower was shocked to learn that the delay was being caused by Interstate Highway construction. Surely the Interstates were being built between cities, not in them. The President demanded to know who was responsible for this state of affairs, only to be told that he was; it was the result of legislation he had signed three years earlier. Aghast, Eisenhower attempted to get the federal government out of the urban freeway business. But it was too late: the program had built up momentum that not even he could halt.

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