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December 20, 2006

More roads don't necessarily mean more traffic, study says

Ottawa, Ontario - The findings of a new Conference Board study says that expanding roads and highways does not significantly increase road usage. The board says that the findings challenge a widely held view that building roads and highways at a rate that matches growth of the driving-age population increases the amount that people drive.

"Where people live is the most significant factor in determining how far they drive," says John Roberts, Director, Environment and Energy. "A major part of the solution to Canada's transportation challenges is more dense urban development, so people live closer to their workplaces and the services they use."

The report concludes that, in addition to population density, measures such as congestion tolls, similar to these in London, England, have a greater effect on driving habits than limiting construction of roads and highways.

The study is the first in Canada to test for evidence of whether new road construction causes Canadians to choose to drive more; it also incorporates socio-economic factors into the analysis, including the share of Canadians residing in urban areas, vehicles per person of driving age, population growth, real per capita disposable income, established driving habits, and the price of gasoline relative to the price of local transit.
Source: http://www.canadiandriver.com/news/061220-4.htm

Interesting because it certainly contradicts what public transportation advocates are saying about building new roads.
 

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Public transportation? What's that? I heard they use it in Europe, but it's never made its way across the pond...

Here in the states, more roads = more knuckle heads staying in the left lane all the time.
 

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Don't show that story to the social engineers...

Personally, I think they know this and that's why road projects are underfunded. In the U.S., like Canada, we love our property and our space (the lefties call this "Urban Sprawl"). As such, affordable and effective public transportation systems, like the ones in Europe - or even in a couple major U.S. cities on the East Coast, are not feasible in most cases. European cities and some major U.S. cities on the East coast are more condensed because they were largely developed at a time when walking and/or carriages were primary modes of transportation. The development of the automobile allowed for people to more easily disburse.

So, in an attempt to counter this effect and force people out of their cars and back to "the city", social engineers underfund road projects (this too has a name by those on the left - it's termed "Smart Growth"). The result is traffic. This allows arguments for public transit, such as light-rail, to flourish under the false pretense that it will alleviate the problem. The reality is that it does not solve the issue and creates a higher tax burden.

How's that for a theory?! :rolleyes: :)
 

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Well, in my area and limited experience, you build or expand a road out into the hinderlands. The price of land is cheaper out there. The taxes are cheaper out there. Suddenly a housing development pops up like a malignant mushroom on some old farmer's field. Next thing you know, over 5 years or so, there's a million housing plans and no more farmer's fields (but all the plans have quaint names like "Green Meadows" and "Rolling Hills" - the actual properties bear no resemblance to the name).

And the guys who first moved out there 5 years earlier are bitching that their 20 minute commute to civilization is now 1 hr and 20 minutes because of the congestion.

Haven't read the report Roccodan mentions, but I'd say it's BS. Okay, yeah, the actual road building doesn't cause more traffic. It's the home building at the end of that road that causes it.
 

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what the heck is an echo of gecko anyways...
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I'd say this "theory" is highly dependant on the city and it's planning. And in many cities, urban growth boundaries are as much about environmental protection as it is about reducing congestion. Not to mention that cities with effective urban planning are consistently rated some of the most livable cities in the nation.

Maybe it's just the PNW culture, but Portland for example functions quite well under this philosophy. Back in the 60s and 70s during the "freeway revolts", the city actually tore down a major freeway through downtown and replaced it with waterfront park, and halted construction of new freeways. The saved money went to fund light rail, and residents have consistently voted for new light rail expansions over highway improvements.

The culture of cookie cutter single family homes on 1/4 acre lots simply can't last forever. Look at LA for example, where sprawl went unchecked since it was founded. It's filled up it's buildable land, and traffic is worse than ever. Highways can only expand so much before they too run out of room, and eventually higher density wins out anyway.
 

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I'd say this "theory" is highly dependant on the city and it's planning. And in many cities, urban growth boundaries are as much about environmental protection as it is about reducing congestion. Not to mention that cities with effective urban planning are consistently rated some of the most livable cities in the nation.

Maybe it's just the PNW culture, but Portland for example functions quite well under this philosophy. Back in the 60s and 70s during the "freeway revolts", the city actually tore down a major freeway through downtown and replaced it with waterfront park, and halted construction of new freeways. The saved money went to fund light rail, and residents have consistently voted for new light rail expansions over highway improvements.

The culture of cookie cutter single family homes on 1/4 acre lots simply can't last forever. Look at LA for example, where sprawl went unchecked since it was founded. It's filled up it's buildable land, and traffic is worse than ever. Highways can only expand so much before they too run out of room, and eventually higher density wins out anyway.
Thank you for proving my point. :)

Has MAX helped solve any congestion issues in Portland? How many commuters does it really serve? Did it come in under budget or over budget? Does it make money on it's own or does it require significant regular subsidies from the taxpayer? How flexible is rail (in terms of locations served)?

...and people cannot live on top of people either. That too quickly runs out. Have you flown over the U.S.? There is plenty of undeveloped land.
 

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Here in the states, more roads = more knuckle heads staying in the left lane all the time.
In 2006 (I believe), Illinois finally made it illegal to sit in the left lane all day. They account for factors such as traffic jams and bad weather, but if it's relatively clear out and I want to pass you, you have to move. Blocking the left lane is a ticketable offense.

Whoo hoo!
 

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what the heck is an echo of gecko anyways...
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Thank you for proving my point. :)

Has MAX helped solve any congestion issues in Portland? Yes, not to mention that it's improved property values along the line. Traffic congestion decline 3 percent, while ridership increased 5 percent. The ridership flucuates. How many commuters does it really serve? About 64,000 daily. That's a lot of cars, not to mention the people that can't afford cars. Did it come in under budget or over budget? Both the east and west Max lines were completed on time, and under budget. East side was completed for $214m (1983), West side was completed $963.5m. Does it make money on it's own or does it require significant regular subsidies from the taxpayer? About 1/4 was funded by tax bonds voted for by residents and by local business taxes. The remaining portion was covered by federal grants. To date, it's resulted in aprox $2.4b in redevelopment along the lines. That's a lot of additional tax revenue. Operation costs are covered by rider fares. How flexible is rail (in terms of locations served)? When combined with busses, it covers the entire metro area. Average ridership 258K boardings daily.

...and people cannot live on top of people either. That too quickly runs out. Have you flown over the U.S.? There is plenty of undeveloped land. So you feel that developing our agriculture and wilderness lands is the best solution? Then feel free to move to BFE Montana if you want a house on a large lot. The rest of the country will probably want to live near a city center, which means higer density is inevitable
:whistle:

Source - http://www.cfte.org/success/success_portland.pdf
 

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what the heck is an echo of gecko anyways...
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LOL, so you respond to a legitimate fact based sudy with an opinion piece, where the author contradicts his own information regarding one potential expansion line that hasn't even become a reality. I cetainly put a lot of faith in the information I get from a $0.50 web page designed by a 12 year old.

Myth: Portland-Clackamas "light rail will attract 17,000 new riders out of their cars each weekday."
Reality: So what? That's less than a quarter of one percent of the Portland-area auto trips that Metro says people will take each weekday when the light rail is done. For that we're supposed to spend more than a billion dollars?


This is the accuracy we're talking about here, talk about spin. He compares ridership figures for one potential future expansion to the entire figures for the entire metro area, and he doesn't even get that right. :crazy:

BTW, not sure if you checked out more of his wonderful site, but he also quotes things like;

"If suburban employment growth is fueled by center city businesses relocating to the suburbs, then employment sprawl wil exacerbate spacial mismatch problems and thus lower employment oportunities for minorities"

Looks like they aren't the sprawl proponent you think they are.
 

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In 2006 (I believe), Illinois finally made it illegal to sit in the left lane all day. They account for factors such as traffic jams and bad weather, but if it's relatively clear out and I want to pass you, you have to move. Blocking the left lane is a ticketable offense.

Whoo hoo!
Tell that to wisconsin drivers.
 

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This is the accuracy we're talking about here, talk about spin. He compares ridership figures for one potential future expansion to the entire figures for the entire metro area, and he doesn't even get that right. :crazy:
Says you. But, come on, you can't be serious. You post a link from the "Center for Transportation Excellence" but then want to discount information from the Thoreau Institute?!

Your argument is that the information presented isn't to be relied upon because:
1. You don't agree with it
2. You don't like the way the website looks

Wow! That's convincing. :)

...Looks like they aren't the sprawl proponent you think they are.
BTW, I made no claims that they were proponents of sprawl - just opponents to light rail.

A few more sites for you (maybe you'll find the styling on one of them to be more acceptable):
http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=35639
http://www.cascadepolicy.org/?p=303#more-303
http://www.reason.org/lightrail/
http://www.lava.net/cslater/Commute4.htm
 

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what the heck is an echo of gecko anyways...
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Says you. But, come on, you can't be serious. You post a link from the "Center for Transportation Excellence" but then want to discount information from the Thoreau Institute?!

Your argument is that the information presented isn't to be relied upon because:
1. You don't agree with it
2. You don't like the way the website looks

Wow! That's convincing. :)


BTW, I made no claims that they were proponents of sprawl - just opponents to light rail.

A few more sites for you (maybe you'll find the styling on one of them to be more acceptable):
http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=35639
http://www.cascadepolicy.org/?p=303#more-303
http://www.reason.org/lightrail/
http://www.lava.net/cslater/Commute4.htm
No, that argument isn't to be relied on because it supplies no relevent or acurate data to back up the claims of the author. The information I supplied does supply that data, and as of yet I've seen nothing that disproves it.

And I never stated that light rail was the end all be all of traffic mitigation solutions. I was simply stating that Portland is an example of a well planned city as a whole, and that a city can be made better without expanding freeways, and in many cases by removing freeways, if this is part of an effective city plan.

In response to your additional articals of "proof" in the failure of Portland's light rail;

http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=35639

Seems to me that they are siting rising fuel costs and a drop in the downtown employment base as the primary cause for recent ridership drops. This is something all commuters experience, even drivers, and I can't see how this minor drop in ridership constitutes a failure.

http://www.cascadepolicy.org/?p=303#more-303

Points out that bus systems are the biggest bang for the buck. Obviously, considering this doesn't factor in the cost of infrastructure. But busses are as prone to road tie ups as cars, so again, this is a short term situation.

http://www.reason.org/lightrail/ - For the most part, they're refering to other cities. The one mention they have of Portland is that it was an example of a successfull light rail program.

Light rail projects usually come in over budget and fail to produce the predicted ridership numbers. Portland, Oregon, hailed as rail's only success story, leads the nation with a light rail system that accounts for 0.76 percent of travel.
http://www.lava.net/cslater/Commute4.htm

Purely opinion, and also highly dependant on the region. Do you think this artical would be accurate when refering to NYC in regards to commute time for example? Why doesn't NYC just build more highways so people can drive from Jersey to Manhattan, isn't that the best solution? Not to mention that while many people in less dense environments may find that a car commute is shorter, they may also find that a mass transit commute is less stressful, safer, and more cost effective. Transit fares in my area are just a few bucks round trip, and I spend quite a bit more than that daily driving my car to work.

In the end, we'll just have to agree to disagree, you'll never convince me you're right, and I'll never convince you you're wrong. :p
 

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No, that argument isn't to be relied on because it supplies no relevent or acurate data to back up the claims of the author. The information I supplied does supply that data, and as of yet I've seen nothing that disproves it...
Does CFTE mention that initial projections were adjusted upward 50+% near the end of the project so that they could say it came in on budget? Of course not. It's all in how you want to look at the real facts...or ignore them in your case. :p ;)

Transit fares in my area are just a few bucks round trip, and I spend quite a bit more than that daily driving my car to work.
That's because all the other tax payers are subsidizing the ride. The out of pocket costs for my commute would be cheaper if everyone paid for my expenses as well. BTW, do you ride the MAX daily?

...In the end, we'll just have to agree to disagree, you'll never convince me you're right, and I'll never convince you you're wrong. :p
Or something like that. :)
 

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BTW, do you ride the MAX daily?
:)
I can tell you from knowing Ben (echo), if it went where he works (and it doesn't even go close to it because he works in BFE :poke: then yes he would.
 

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Does CFTE mention that initial projections were adjusted upward 50+% near the end of the project so that they could say it came in on budget? Of course not. It's all in how you want to look at the real facts...or ignore them in your case. :p ;)

Do you have information that suggests this figure (50% over inflated) is true? And, even if it were true, which I highly doubt it is, the benefits to the community have already repaid this investment in the forms of redevelopment and revitalization. I challenge you to find a major city with a downtown core as vibrant as Portland, in many cities the downtown core is no more than a haven for crime, drugs, and abandonment.


That's because all the other tax payers are subsidizing the ride. The out of pocket costs for my commute would be cheaper if everyone paid for my expenses as well. BTW, do you ride the MAX daily?

They are? Once the infrastructure has been created, the system is self sufficient. As I stated before, the operating costs and upkeep are covered by fares. Can you say the same about roads? Is your $X.XX a day in gas and car maintenance paying for new roads and road maintenance, or are you paying a separate set of taxes and fees for that?


Or something like that. :)
And like D pointed out, I'd gladly ride light rail, or even the bus to work every day, kicking back, listening to music, saving wear and tear on my car. But I work in a far out suburb and there is no light rail service yet. However it's in the works, and as Dereik can attest as also being my mortgage broker, a place near a transit station would be a big selling point foir me.
 

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I can tell you from knowing Ben (echo), if it went where he works (and it doesn't even go close to it because he works in BFE :poke: then yes he would.
Hmmm...so you are saying light rail isn't flexible and can't reach all places so he must drive? Interesting. ;) :poke:
 
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