Transport rationalization: A second look

MUTCD_W2-6.svg[2]I take a look around me. Now I ask: Are more transportation modes than what currently exist needed? My answer is: Yes.

I am fast reminded of the collective amount of delay, fuel and productivity waste and air quality and environmental impact.

In “Rationalization of transportation: Putting the brakes on delay, worsening air, etc.,” I offered: “According to Texas Transportation Institute 2012 Urban Mobility Report data, in 2011, American drivers collectively were stuck in traffic 5.5 billion hours, the average per-driver delay being 38 hours. Public transportation and aviation excluded, the nationwide delay was responsible for 2.9 billion gallons of fuel being wasted and, on a per-capita basis average yearly fuel wasted was 19 gallons. Assuming the national average per-gallon-of-gasoline cost to be $3.65, that is an extra $69.35 that is shelled out compared to motor vehicle movement being completely fluid. Factor in all motor vehicle delay all across America and it amounts to $10.585 billion going up in smoke.

“And where the environment is concerned, for year 2011 there were 380 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions releases per vehicle due to congestion. Meanwhile, collectively, motor vehicle CO2 releases across the nation for the same year totaled a whopping 56 billion pounds.”

If this alone weren’t enough, yesterday I read that, based on a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study air pollution exhausted from motor vehicles caused an estimated 58,000+ premature deaths in 2005. This is more than the number of fatalities resulting from motor vehicle collisions occurring on America’s gargantuan roadway network; an annual approximate 30,000. That’s almost double.

Now comes time to ask the question: What would be effective at reducing fuel waste and in improving mobility and air quality?

Different strokes for different folks

So, what’s the correct answer? There are different schools of thought depending upon who you ask.

Some say proper and prudent use of land is the key. Others contend better transportation management techniques and maintenance and/or infrastructure improvement and/or improved technological capability is what’s called for. Still others will say a better mix and/or balance of and/or more modes, is what is needed. Could it be it is a combination of all of the above that will best address the issues?

Changing attitudes, behaviors, outlooks, perspectives, policies, practices

I will say this: Whatever it is that brought us to the place we are, it is what it is. And continuing down the path of doing things the same way they’ve been done (the status quo, in other words) isn’t going to correct the transportation-related deficit situations that exist in the world today. That said, ultimately, something has to be done to make moving around less bothersome, cumbersome, dangerous, economically and environmentally unfriendly and worrisome, or eventually, the proverbial “brick wall” will be hit.

Mobility at a crossroads?
Mobility at a crossroads?

Moreover, if the past is any indication, maintaining the status quo or even worse, doing nothing, will, in my opinion, help ensure that considerable sums of folk, more often than not, will not be traveling in more effective and/or efficient and/or environmentally responsible ways compared to what exists currently, not to mention socially responsible means of travel too.

To help correct this and prevent stagnation along with that, attitudes, behaviors, outlooks, perspectives, policies, practices and what-not, will need to be seriously looked at and then adjusted accordingly.

That’s my take.

– Alan Kandel