Cheap fixes for traffic congestion
The LA Times recently ran an article
on "quick and inexpensive" ways to reduce traffic congestion. There are some good ideas in here that are just as applicable to Houston:
- Open up transit to competition by ending the govt-sanctioned monopoly, allowing competition like jitneys - an idea I've advocated for Houston before, and one that is particularly applicable to commuter services on an express lane network.
- Raise parking meter rates so people spend less time cruising around looking for a space. The "optimal" rate is considered to be one that keeps the street parking about 85% occupied.
- A better bus network, including some faster dedicated (or semi-dedicated lanes) and connecting shuttles.
- Synchronized lights, minimze left-turning at rush hours, and street conversions to one-way (I think the Galleria/Uptown area could really use this last one - maybe Post Oak should be one-way northbound, looping southbound on the 610 feeder?).
- Convert HOV lanes to congestion-priced toll lanes to get better utilization.
- Cut bus fares. Maybe even make them free. Fares typically cover less than 20% of costs (the rest are paid by sales tax subsidies). Free fares not only increase ridership, but vastly simplify and speed up the buses since fares don't have to be collected or enforced.
- Extend congestion pricing to all freeways (radical, but could be extremely effective).
A really good set of suggestions. Houston seems to be on track with 3, 4, and 5. 2 is less relevant to us, but could be helpful. 1, 6, and 7 are more "out there" - but well worth investigating.
Labels: Metro, mobility strategies, toll roads, transit