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Fixing congestion by speeding up traffic is a red herring. Think of peak usage (rush hour) like pouring a 5-gallon bucket into a sink. The peak volume will always be able to overwhelm the pipe no matter how big the pipe is but a big pipe sure helps it go away faster. This principal applies to mass transit as well. There will always be backup, like on the subway platform at 5:05pm, but more capacity (more lanes, faster flow, more frequent service, etc) means it will cycle through faster.

This article's gripes about measuring the cost of congestion are mostly accurate. That TTI study is laughable. Their gripes about mobility not being a goal are totally bunk. I understand their agenda and why they feel this way but the reduction in cost of moving a fixed distance has enabled us to massively increase our standard of living. They just don't like it because it's made certain other societal problems more bearable so we haven't fixed them yet (e.g. terrible zoning in some places) and it's environmentally unfriendly. Barring some revolution in transportation on par with the automobile I doubt they'll go unfixed that much longer.

I'm not in the least bit sympathetic to the author's belief that increased difficulty of travel is good. I grew up somewhere that was hard to get to and the economic reality that bring sucks (your dollars only go like 80% as far) and people would be stupid to want to impose on this on themselves. The author is conflating his distaste for the automobile (which is fashionable and has some merit,especially on environmental grounds) with a distaste for lower cost/higher speed transportation in general. If you were to re-write his article and instead complain about how city buses and subways have made it possible for people's range to extend beyond their neighborhood or imagine some alternative reality in which cars are replaced with carbon neutral mass transit of equivalent cost/throughput it would become immediately apparent how nonsensical this distaste for reducing the time/money cost of physical distance is.

Edit: My analogy is for reasonable pipe sizes only.




> The peak volume will always be able to overwhelm the pipe no matter how big the pipe

This doesn't make sense? If your sink's pipe was 1 meter in diameter you wouldn't overwhelm it with 5 gallons would you?

Not saying that should be the goal, but the reasoning seems wrong...


True, but the point is, making pipes big enough to actually make this work ... is physically impossible with current constraints.


That would be like having a 1 mile wide freeway


The issue is that new usages appear as soon as the pipes get bigger. So you're never making it go away faster.


It's one of those things everyone always says but doesn't seem to always be true. There used to be a spot on my commute that always had traffic jams. It was a single lane turn coming off a bridge and having to merge with a busy road. Traffic always used to back up and block the entire bridge. A couple of years ago they changed the one lane into two lanes and put a light. No issues since.

But adding a big highway before a congestion point, that doesn't help.


And why is that a bad thing? It means people are not forgoing trips because the cost (time, money, either, both) is too high.


Maintaining a sprawling network of massive pipes costs a lot of money, and precludes more efficient forms of plumbing.




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