Article as published at Crosscut
Population in the four counties of Central Puget Sound will have grown from the 2008 total of 3.6 million by another 1.4 million in 2040. Jobs will increase by 1.1 million, and – based on the region’s collective proclivities to date – total vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by more than 40 percent. Barring some big paradigm shift, the percentage of daily “passenger” work trips (freight vehicles not included) which occur on transit will grow from 8 percent of the current (2006) total to only 9 percent in 2040. For far more numerous non-work passenger trips, the transit market share stays at a scant 2 percent between 2006 and 2040, according to recent modeling. The vast majority of daily passenger trips occur in cars now and then. For work it’s more than four of five, for non-work, about nine of ten. (The rest are split between transit, walking and biking.) On the upside, there’s a lot more ride-sharing for non-work trips; plus, per-capita VMT will continue to stay flat; and we can shave a bit off the expected growth in total VMT by meeting (elusive) regional growth strategy targets.
These are some of the conclusions in a March 2009 background paper that’s part of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Transportation 2040” planning effort. Future projections may change slightly under new computer modeling in a draft environmental impact statement due out at month’s end. But you get the idea. The PSRC’s 2040 picture begs a huge question: what to do about it all. And, as we’ll see in a moment, it turns out that, away from the big transportation headlines it made last session, the state legislature has some ideas of its own.
My own take: A comprehensive approach to managing peak-hour highway capacity in Central Puget Sound should be launched by bravely establishing – and soon – a seamless regional system of variably-priced, automated and ultimately, corridor-length tolling on highways and major state routes. This must be folded into a broader plan to develop stable long-term funding for the region’s surface transportation network.
Article as published at Crosscut
U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. James Oberstar (D.-Minn.) says, enough already with studies and pilot projects. Why not just phase in over the next two years the controversial vehicle mileage tax, in order to supplement and eventually replace the flailing gas tax? More from Associated Press: ..Oberstar…(pictured, right) said he believes the technology exists to implement a mileage tax. He said he sees no point in waiting years for the results of pilot programs since such a tax system is inevitable as federal gasoline tax revenues decline. “Why do we need a pilot program? Why don’t we just phase it in?” said Oberstar, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman. Oberstar is drafting a six-year transportation bill Read More ›
Working with federal, state and regional partners, the Harris County Tollway Authority this fall will begin the final stages of implementing a plan for a total of four fully-operational High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes, on both sides of a 12-mile stretch of the I-10 Katy Expressway. The highway section runs between central Houston and points west. The current, single, reversible carpool and transit, or HOV lane will make way for two managed HOT lanes in each direction. As is the case in all new tolling projects now, tolls will be assessed automatically, as traffic flows, without old-school tollbooths. Overhead gantries will electronically read transponders in vehicle windshields which are registered to drivers’ accounts. The $2.8 billion project includes additional Read More ›
With the defeat by Puget Sound taxpayers of a multi-billion-dollar roads and transit ballot measure Nov. 6, momentum is growing for tolling and congestion pricing to help ease traffic congestion in the Seattle region, as this news and opinion round-up shows. In a Puget Sound Transportation Action Plan just unveiled, Cascadia Center also accents tolling and congestion pricing, along with centralized regional decision-making on transportation; more private investment in roads and transit; more bus rapid transit and commuter rail; an enhanced network of suburban park-and-ride lots; plus more government fleet purchases of – and fuel infrastructure development for – flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Puget Sound hesitantly stands on the cusp of allocating more rationally its scarce road capacity. Tolling Read More ›