One of our goals in the Road to Ruin
and Bacon's Rebellion
has been to highlight alternative transportation strategies that don't entail spending a lot of money on mega-road and rail projects, and and raising taxes to pay for them. Over the past 10 months or so, we have explored quite a few.
In yesterday's edition of the Rebellion
, I touched upon the potential to reignite mass transit ridership by giving the private sector a greater role. Municipal transit monopolies and taxicab franchises dampen the ability of the private sector to adapt to changing settlement patterns, implement new technologies and introduce innovations into the marketplace. By re-thinking the way we approach shared ridership, we could reinvigorate this alternative to One-Man-One-Car. (See "Liberate Mass Transit
In a similar vein, we've written about NuRide, an Internet-based service that allows commuters to identify other carpoolers traveling the same route at the same time -- a technology that offers the potential to revive the declining practice of carpooling. (See "Carpool Comeback
We've explored the potential for telecommuting (working from home) and telework (working outside the main office and staying connected through cell phones, BlackBerries and laptops). (See "Rush Hour Will Never Be the Same
We've shown how local governments can work with developers to create real estate projects with a smaller "traffic footprint" through better urban design and creative use of shared ridership. (See "Traffic Buster
We've shown how new zoning codes and new templates for urban design can reduce the length and number of car trips and reduce traffic on congested thoroughfares. (See "Albemarle Place
," and "Street Cars and Zoning Codes
We've shown how it's possible, with modest investments, to significantly increase the capacity of existing thoroughfares without expensive widening projects. (See "Seeing the (Traffic) Light
" and "Aroused about Roundabouts
We've argued in favor of congestion-pricing tolls as a way of rationing scarce peak-highway capacity and encouraging commuters to change their driving behavior, whether carpooling more, riding buses, or resorting to telecommuting and telework. (See "Congestion Pricing
" and "Roads and Reason
There is no "silver bullet" for addressing Virginia's congestion woes. But there are many narrow-bore policies, each of which can address a piece of the problem and all of which can make a huge difference. Sadly, we have seen another session of the General Assembly come and go with none of these ideas being discussed seriously. Virginia's leaders are locked into a worldview that defines traffic congestion as a problem that can be solved only by adding more capacity.
While debate has raged over the necessity of raising taxes to pay for transportation improvements, virtually no one is questioning the idea that adding more capacity is the one and only solution. Even Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who campaigned on the slogan that we can't pave our way out of congestion, has abandoned efforts at meaningful land use reform and become an advocate of tax-and-build.
The failure of Virginia's political leadership -- even tax-averse Republicans -- to consider other strategies is most disheartening. But we'll keep plugging away.