What is the alternative to "traffic mitigation" fees, developer fees for roads, etc.?

The best way to charge users of a new development for freeways and local roads is to charge only the freeway or road users, rather than all users of the development. This is accomplished by modern technology. If a freeway is truly economical to build, and no public money is available, private enterprise will build the freeway ("fareway") at a profit, just as transit systems once financed their systems from the farebox. This also holds true for lane widenings and new road construction. If the developer wants a road to his proposed development, it is best to tell him "if you want it, build it at your expense", rather than "you must build the road". By not requiring road construction, the developer may construct a guideway transit line, as shown by history. Many streetcar companies constructed guideway transit into new developments (preceding it with land purchases).

The full costs of accommodating the automobile needs to be voluntarily transferred to automobile users. This is accomplished by repealing laws that force automobile accommodation. For example, it would be in the interest of an employer to pay employees not to drive to work if some of the parking lot space is allowed to be productively used.

The root cause of difficulties for transit is the lack of a free-market for competing transportation. Returning to fundamental free market principles is the most effective way of helping transit. There are beneficial side effects, including cleaner air, less noise, and a safer city.

Conflicts over mandatory automobile accommodation

There has been a never-ending battle of companies wanting to build higher buildings, reduce parking lots, and not wanting to pay for "traffic mitigation". They range from large developers to small restaurants (who must provide one parking space per restaurant table). They do not have the correct arguments for achieving their goal. They typically use a "hardship" argument that is not convincing. But their goals are also the goals of transit advocates, and should be the goals of all environmentalists. They need to argue that there is a hardship on transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians. They need to declare that their automobile accommodation will result in more air pollution, that it is inconsistent with the free market principles, and that it goes against transportation policies that encourage people to take alternatives to the automobile.

For the car user, it makes no difference who pays the subsidy to make his car usage artificially cheap: the general taxpayer, or businesses that are required to do so by government.

Example article from San Jose Mercury News (Feb. 21, 1990):

"Campbell officials will [also] require Trammel Crow Company to pay for ways to ease traffic. ... Prometheus Development Company, which built two office complexes on Hamilton [Avenue] on the east side of Highway 17, spent $7 million on new traffic signals, turn lanes, wider streets, signal synchronization and highway ramp realignments."

MTS comment:

The $7 million automobile subsidy paid for by this developer would have paid for about half a mile of light rail transit -transit that would have carried many times more people than the roadway improvements per dollar invested. Given the option, the developers could move far more people by light rail than by accommodating and subsidizing the automobile. In addition, they would have gotten greater value from the land by reducing parking lot size and using higher density, advantages which in turn, would have further enhanced light rail transit patronage and value.


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