Nov. 17, 1999
Jim Beall, Chair
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
101 Eight St.
Oakland CA 94607
Subject: Public hearing input, Transportation Blueprint for the 21st Century
Honorable Jim Beall and Commissioners,
I summarize my comments at yesterdays hearing for the benefit of all MTC Commissioners.
Consideration needs to be given to the phenomenon of induced traffic. Adding more lane miles will not alleviate congestion, except for a short term temporary effect. In the Highway 85 corridor, this temporary effect lasted just two years after constructing the freeway according to newspaper reports. Therefore, the public got very little for the dollars spent. A bibliography of studies on induced traffic is at:
The principle of induced traffic also deduces that traffic will decrease if highway capacity is decreased. The concept of gridlock is a fallacy that is promoted by highway construction interests as a scare tactic. Recent evidence for this was the temporary closure of the Central Freeway in San Francisco. Gridlock was predicted on the Bay Bridge. Not only did gridlock never happen, traffic congestion actually decreased. That is why on the Bay Bridge the electric passenger trains need to be restored by taking back automobile lanes. The trains were destroyed to create those lanes.
HOV lanes are a solodriver incentive. More solodrivers than carpools are added to roads after constructing the HOV lane, a result of carpoolers moving over to the new lane and the vacancy they leave becomes filled by solodrivers. Carpool lanes increase pollution despite claims to the contrary by MTC and RIDES because total VMT increases as a result of increasing highway capacity. Carpooling has decreased in the Bay Area since before there were carpool lanes. In 1980 when there were no carpool lanes, 16.3% carpooled compared with 14.3% in 1998. This was despite constructing 266 miles of carpool lanes, beginning in 1982. Details, references and conclusions are on our web page Carpool lane facts for the San Francisco Bay Area at:
Cashout would significantly reduce commuting by automobile. The average of 10 studies shows a 26% reduction. MTC should to adopt methods of implementing cashout at places of employment and at large apartment complexes. Details are in the handouts from Mike Bullock and also on our web site at:.
The proposed sales tax for roads is another subsidy for automobiles. MTC staff [Chris Brittle] has stated that eliminating the parking subsidy would significantly decrease automobile commuting and increase transit use. Thank you for this recognition. Sales taxes for roads would do the opposite, and is counter to government policies that encourage people to commute by modes other than automobile. MTC needs to oppose sales taxes for roads not only on these grounds, but also because the same congestion would return in just a few years. Such money is poorly spent. For concepts that truly reduce or eliminate traffic congestion, please see our web page at: