In today’s WAPO, Mike Shear reports on what a source told him that Governor Kaine will say tonight about solving the Commonwealths mobility and access crisis.

None of the proposals will make much difference in the short term (or in the long term) as has been pointed our since mid-2005 when Kaine’s program started to emerge. The measures outlined will not address the need to balance transportation system capacity with the travel demand of current and planned settlement patterns. They will not address the simple free market solution to transportation dysfunction: Charging the full and equitable cost of all citizen, agency, enterprise and institution location decisions.

As our colleague Jim Bacon says at least Kaine is addressing the land use / transportation issue and that is a start. The proposals will, at the very best, smoke out some of the obstacles to real solutions.

There is one thing Kaine could do tomorrow morning that would not require the legislature or municipal governments to take any action and would have immediate impact.

Kaine could require by executive order that all VDOT projects not yet under contract be reevaluated to determine the impact of the project in the context of the planned and zoned land use in the project service shed. This is an easy, simple step that, if carried out with diligence, would have profound impact and would open the real discussion of land use / transport relationships.

For an example of the details of such a review process, see our Backgrounder “Anatomy of a Bottleneck,” 14 August 2002 and “The Role of Municipal Panning in Creating Dysfunctional Human Settlement Patterns,” 23 January 2002 both at

OK this is not a short term “fix” for transport but it is a way to keep congestion from getting worse, faster.


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  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “Charging the full and equitable cost of all citizen, agency, enterprise and institution location decisions.”

    As the Cadillac ad says…BREAKTHROUGH!!!!

    If you and I ever stop arguing at cross puposes we might come to an agreement.

    One problem is that no one is adressing the transportation demand of current settlements, and under Kaine’s plan there probably won’t be any new ones — untilthe next Governor is elected.

    But Winston and Shirley of the brookings institution already examined what would happen if we Charged the full and equitable cost of all citizen, agency, enterprise and institution location decisions.


    “The extent to which urban transportation systems would change under optimal pricing and service frequency and improved operating efficiency is shown in table 4-2. Averaged over all systems, bus fares rise roughly four fold while frequency is cut more than two-thirds. Public bus transportation no longer runs a deficit, but this only appears to be possible with a national mode share of less than 1 percent, as compared with buses’ current share of 5 percent. The changes in rail fares, frequencies and mode share are qualitatively similar, but less dramatic. Auto travel would also become more expensive, especilly during peak travel periods in cities with traffic congestion. But the share of autos and car pools still increase because travelers would find public transit’s substantial fare inreases and cutbacks in service more onerous than optimal congestion tolls. Thus net-benefit maximization would solve urban transportation’s budgetary problems and significantly increase total welfare, but would have only a modest impact on traffic congestion. (19)

    Footnote 19. Although auto’s mode share would increase, congestion and travel time would be reduced because some travelers would begin to use off-peak departure times or car pools. These changes, however, are not enough to produce large time savings( the largest decreases in average travel time are only a few minutes.”


    This is based on 1990 data, so feel free to filibuster.

    Winston and Shirley figure that free market pricing would result in a net transportation savings of between 10 and 12 billion dollars depending on how you assess the costs of pollution and accidents.

    Now, this is only a model, and I have previously argued the shortcomings of models. This one seems particularly well done and complete.

    For example, under the conditions prescribed bus frequency would go from 0.95 under the current system to 0.26, but over a much smaller area. This agrees with the suggestion of Steven Vincent in the current Bacon’s Rebellion that bus frequncy needs to be increased.

    I would go farther than Winston and Shirley. You and I agree that every institution ought to pay the full price of its location decisions. I believe, for example, that the primary beneficiaries of VRE is the employers whose employees are served by the railroad. If they had to pay their share of the railroad expenses, it might not be so necessary to make the draconian rail service cuts Shirley and Winston prescribe. On the other hand, if they had to pay, they might well relocate to an edge city.

    As far as that goes, cities cost an enormous amount to power, provide water to, and clean up after. Maybe we should just charge cities their full going cost and redistribute the money to the country side. Then people could afford to keep their land and we wouldn’t have to worry about sprawling development.

    There might be a slight problem with people fleeing the city because of the expense and congestion charges, but eventually it would all even out.

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