About Brian D. Taylor (Edit profile)

Brian D. Taylor is Professor of Urban Planning, Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, and Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles (btaylor@g.ucla.edu).

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Traffic Congestion Is Counter-Intuitive, and Fixable

Brian D. Taylor

To live in Los Angeles is to endure chronic traffic congestion. Cities are places where people cluster together to create and enjoy the benefits of economic wealth, cultural vibrancy, intellectual exchange, and more. But with clustering comes traffic — often lots of it. While nearly everyone agrees that traffic is a problem, opinions diverge widely on what to do about it.

Introduction: Greatest Hits

Brian D. Taylor

Prior to the recent explosion of digital access to individual songs, greatest hits albums were a staple of the music industry. An artist with enough successful albums under his or her belt could repackage the best songs on each previous album into a greatest hits collection, which often then became a bestseller itself. Here at ACCESS, we have more than a few successful issues under our collective belt, so many that our first greatest hits album even has a theme: Transportation Finance. While it was hard to narrow it down, the six articles we chose for this ACCESS Finance Special Issue collectively consider creative approaches emerging in California and elsewhere to address our mounting financial challenges in transportation.

Carmageddon in Los Angeles: The Sizzle and the Fizzle

Brian D. Taylor and Martin Wachs

“Carmageddon” refers to the horrific traffic jams predicted when a bridge reconstruction project in Los Angeles required closing 10 miles of the Interstate 405 freeway on two weekends. The closed freeway through the Sepulveda Pass between West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley is one of the most heavily traveled arteries in the world, with more than half a million vehicles passing through on a typical summer weekend. Traffic from the closures was predicted to back up for miles and spill onto local streets, severely congesting some parts of Los Angeles. Download the PDF.

Going Mental: Everyday Travel and the Cognitive Map

Andrew Mondschein, Evelyn Blumenberg, and Brian D. Taylor

How do you get to work? Do you have a preferred route to your favorite restaurant? To the nearest hospital? To Disneyland? If you know—or think you know—the answers to any of these questions, then your cognitive map is at work. Humans rely on mental maps to store knowledge of places and routes in order to engage in travel and activities. People use their cognitive maps to decide where to go and how to get there. But accessibility research has largely ignored this essential aspect of travel behavior, despite the fact that a trip won’t happen without prior knowledge of a destination and potential routes to it. As cities become larger and more dispersed, good information about opportunities and travel systems is more important than ever. Download the PDF.

Thinking Outside the Bus

Hiroyuki Iseki, Michael Smart, Brian D. Taylor, and Allison Yoh

In an era of stretched tax revenues, shrinking public sector budgets, and partisan debates over the appropriate role and scale of government, investments in public transit systems have been increasing. While the Great Recession has recently squeezed many transit operating budgets, overall public capital and operating subsidies of transit systems have grown dramatically over the past decade. Why have transit expenditures grown when so many other facets of public expenditure have shrunk?

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Just Road Pricing

Lisa Schweitzer and Brian D. Taylor

Economists have long advocated road pricing as an efficient way to reduce congestion and improve the environment. Many critics, however, object to road pricing on the grounds that it unfairly burdens low-income drivers. Implicit in these objections is the idea that existing transportation finance methods burden the poor less, or at least spread the burden more fairly. Most of the equity concerns about road pricing stem from the fact that it is regressive; that is, poorer people spend a larger share of their incomes on tolls than do wealthier people. But in the US, road systems are financed primarily through fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, property taxes, and, increasingly, sales taxes—all of which are also regressive. Thus the relevant question is not simply whether road pricing is regressive, or even if it will burden the poor. The relevant question is whether road pricing will burden the poor more than other ways of paying for roads.

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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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