TRANSPORT STRATEGY DISASTER

CREATIVE OBFUSCATION OF SOLUTIONS TO THE MOBILITY AND ACCESS CRISIS WILL BE THE KEY TO WINNING THE FALL POLITICAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

The political football season is upon us. As it now stands, the championship match up between the Elephant Clan and the Donkey Clan will be decided by which team is best at playing Hide-The-Ball on Mobility and Access for one more election cycle.

So far one team is playing Hide-The-Plan. The other team has surfaced a grab bag of schemes that were rendered irrelevant 35 years ago. They are proudly calling this smokescreen a “plan.” They hope not one notices that it is an AntiPlan Smokescreen.

If the 15 Theses for purifying the ‘family’ by the politician at the top of the Elephant Clan ticket does not turn off the majority of voters, the fantasies about paving the way to Jobs, Mobility and Access should.

The Elephant Clan ‘plan’ prints out at 9 pages of small print. When the political rhetoric is pruned out, there is not ONE idea that is relevant to the economic and physical reality of September 2009. Jim Bacon in his recent posts has outlined many aspects of the new reality.

Most of the ideas in the AntiPlan Smokescreen have not been relevant since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. The embargo SHOULD have awakened everyone about the resources and strategies needed to support survivability of a technology driven democracy with a market economy.

Lets look under the hood: The Elephant Clan AntiPlan is headlined by a scheme to sell off the ABC stores to raise money. Please do not step in the elephants droppings!!

If an intelligent investor had an asset that would only bring $500 million on the open market but was a $100 million-a-year cash cow, would they SELL it? That is 20 percent a year ROI! OH! You are going to sell it to a friend, well THAT is different …

Every other component of the ‘plan’ is just as ill conceived because the AntiPlan has nothing to do with the future needs of Virginians’ with respect to Mobility and Access.

Let us start with where the plan was announced:

Arlington County is a fine place to launch a forward looking Mobility and Access plan. A location in the Core of the largest economic engine in the Commonwealth will get a lot of attention.

The Elephant Clan spin masters needed, however, to move the announcement site about two and a half miles South. If anyone in a Clan leadership position understood the topic of Mobility and Access they would have selected a spot overlooking Columbia Pike not I-66.

The light rail line Arlington County is hoping to build in the Columbia Pike corridor is the type of transportation infrastructure that will be needed to address the Mobility and Access Crisis. The last thing Virginia needs is more roadways for more Large, Private Vehicles.

Shared-vehicle systems will provide Mobility and Access to serve the functional settlement patterns necessary to support prosperity in the emerging economic, social and physical context.

In the March 2009 Atlantic, Richard Florida ( the author of The Creative Class and other best selling books) published “How the Crash Will Reshape America.” The article (and the supporting materials published on Florida’s Blog since march of 2009) documents the forces that will drive economic prosperity in the 21st century.

Florida suggests that to preserve prosperity – and move beyond unsustainable Mass OverConsumption – the settlement patterns that support – and are required if citizens rely on Autonomobiles for Mobility and Access – will need to be restructured. Aka, Fundamental Transformation.

Florida calls these new patterns and densities of land use “a new spacial fix.” SYNERGY calls it functional human settlement patterns and documents that this ‘future’ vision is in fact the settlement pattern that has been favored by the market for at least the last 50 years.

The reasons Florida gives for this Fundamental Transformation make sense from the perspective of maintaining prosperity and increasing economic metabolism and quality of life. (Also see Sugrue, Thomas J. “The New American Dream: Renting” in The Wall Street Journal 14 August 2009, (see Blog posting “The American Dream Amended” 18 August 2009) and Chapters 3,4 & 5 of The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream by John F. Wasik (2009)

While shared-vehicles such as METRO and Arlington County’s Light Rail are a step in the right direction, there is a Mobility and Access axiom that has been validated over and over since before chariot congestion gridlocked Imperial Rome:

It is not possible to build ANY Mobility and Access system so that all residents of a functional Urban Agglomeration can go were the want, when they want IN A VEHICLE and arrive in a timely fashion.

Over the last 2,400 years the Mobility and Access technology has evolved. With each improvement of the technology has come an increase in the scale and complexity of functional Urban systems. The greater the area required to drive and park (stable) the vehicle, the faster any Mobility and Access system becomes congested. There is much to learn from humans use of the horse in this regard. See Chapters 13 and 14 of The Shape of the Future (especially Chapter 13, Box 9 The Carriageless Horse) and PART THREE – THE PROBLEM WITH CARS in TRILO-G.

There is a corollary to the overarching Vehicle Mobility and Access Axiom that deals with Autonomobiles. Those who are familiar with the past work of SYNERGY know all about the Myth that obscures this Autonomobile corollary, it is the Large, Private Vehicle Mobility and Access Myth. Autonomobile advocates work to perpetuated this Myth:

Citizens can drive Large, Private Vehicles wherever they want, whenever the want AND with this demand pattern it is possible for Agencies to provide a roadway system to serve these vehicles so that everyone can arrive in a timely manner.

This is physical impossibility. But this is the tragic Myth that both political Clans hope voters will cling to at least until November. The Clans will do their best to obfuscate the fact that there is no miracle – political or economic – that will bring back the conditions that caused Autonomobiles to SEEM like a good idea to provide Mobility and Access.

The world has changed. Economic conditions that result few Households being able to afford an Autonomobile MAY well return.

However, cheap fuel and subsidies that are massive enough to make the Autonomobile appear to be a reasonable alternative for even a slim majority of citizens to acquire Mobility and Access will NOT return.

Even with cheap fuel, there is no basis for assuming that the goal of a functional Mobility and Access can be achieved by expanding Roadways for Large, Private Vehicles (aka, Autonomobiles). Building more Roadways INSIDE Clear Edges has not been an effective strategy to improve Mobility and Access since the 1920s when only a small minority of the Households could afford a Autonomobile.

Building Roadways for Autonomobiles has not improved citizen Mobility and Access at the SubRegional, Regional or MegaRegional scales in Urban areas for decades.

The higher the percentage of car ownership per Household, the less building roadways improves Mobility and Access at the MegaRegional, Regional, SubRegional and Community Scales. Since 1985 building roadways has occasionally helped some at the top of the Ziggurat who can influence the planning, design, funding and construction of roadways to meet their specific objectives but it has not helped citizens Region-wide.

At the sub-Community scale, building Roadways CAN improve Mobility and Access for those who have access to Autonomobiles in specific corridors and for short periods of time but not in the long term and not for entire MegaRegions, Regions or even large SubRegions.

The annual Urban Mobility Report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) documents that in every year since the survey started in the mid-80s, congestion has gotten worse in every large urban agglomeration in the US of A.

Analysis by the Surface Transportation Policy Project has shown that in those large SubRegions and Regions where MORE lane miles of roadway per capita were added, the congestion grew FASTER than in those SubRegions and Regions that built FEWER lane miles per capita and effectively employed other Mobility and Access strategies. (See “The Physics of Gridlock” and “Priority Transport Improvements” two PowerPoint presentations on The Shape of the Future – 4th Printing CD for a summary of the TTI data and findings through the early 00s. The TTI reports since that time, including the one just released based on data through 2007, confirm these trends.)

It turns out traffic congestion is NOT driven by the need for new Roadways. The “problem” is the Large, Private Vehicles themselves – that is why they are called Autonomobiles.

The land area needed to drive and park Autonomobiles disaggregates human settlement to the point of dysfunction at the scales of Urban agglomeration that are effective in supporting the economic, social and physical well being of citizens. Functional settlement patterns are necessary to achieve sustainability of a contemporary, technology and competition driven civilization.

It is not just a matter of economic structure, it is not just a matter of social stability, it is not just a matter of environmental sustainability, it is a matter of physics, PERIOD. This fact is validated by the market decisions of those who have a choice. This reality is spelled out PART THREE – THE PROBLEM WITH CARS in TRILO-G .

The cost of using Large, Private Vehicles has gone up and will go up further. In addition, programs, policies and regulations that begin to fairly allocate location-variable costs – including the full cost of Large, Private Vehicles – will cause the cost of their use to go up even more.

As use and utility of Large, Private Vehicles winds down, MegaRegions, Regions, SubRegions, Communities, Villages and Neighborhoods will need new transport infrastructure for efficient vehicles to provide Mobility and Access for functional and sustainable human settlement patterns.

If the Regions within Virginia are to be competitive in the provision of goods and services and in attracting those citizens who will be needed to support economic prosperity, they will require transport infrastructure to support functional human settlement patterns.

The simple minded delusion that there is a ‘NEED’ for a new roadways to carry ‘increased future traffic, especially ‘commuter’ traffic, is based on projecting past trends forward without regard to the current and probable future reality with respect to the affordability and utility of Large, Private Vehicles within the context that Florida, Bacon, SYNERGY and others foresee:

1. There will be less and less ability to have Job in Core of SubRegions or Regions (where 85 percent of the citizens now work) and live somewhere else

2. Agencies will be forced to provide Mobility and Access with more efficient shared-vehicle systems rather than subsidizing Large, Private Vehicles.

3. Agencies will not be able to afford to provide “commuter services” to those who live in scattered Urban dwellings

4. There will be diminishing ability to truck goods long distances. Long distance trucking would have atrophied years ago but for gross subsidies. Truck fees and taxes now pay for only about 10 percent of the heavy goods vehicles impact on Roadways and almost nothing toward the impact on air and water resources.

How did Virginia get to this place? VDOT’s ancestor was chartered to build roadways. For 85 years VDOT and its predecessors (VDH&T and VDH) have been faced with an ever expanding tide of cars. That this tide will ebb is not yet on the VDOT or political Clan radar based on their actions and public pronouncements.

There is a colloquialism oft repeated by residents of islands in the eastern Carribean: “Little bird, he build nest one stick at a time.” Roadway Agencies have built traffic congestion one roadway project at a time.

Citizens / voters will have to tell governance practitioners that times have changed.

What would a REAL plan for Mobility and Access look like? Here are some elements of a Commonwealth Mobility and Access Plan which will enable Regions and SubRegions to obtain a sustainable tranjectory:

Set up a democratically elected body to carry out the following steps:

Step One: Determine the area needed for current and future (at least 50 years) Urban land uses in functional and sustainable patterns and densities. This total will be between 5 and 10 percent of the land area in the Commonwealth.

Step Two: Allocate the area for future development by Region based on the carrying capacity of the Regions and SubRegions. Allocation of the total Urban area in each Region to be based on an intelligent, democratically determined criteria. Provide for a review of the allocation every five years.

Step Three: Draw a Clear Edge around all Urbansides to indicate the boundary between the Urbansides and the Countryside. The total area within the Clear Edges would provide for each Regions allocation in Step Two. The area within the Clear Edges would ALSO include Openspace at all scales (Dooryard, Cluster, Neighborhood, Village, Community, SubRegional, Regional) equal to half the total area within the Clear Edges.

Step Four: Inside the Clear Edges around the Core of New Urban Regions and large Urban agglomerations in Urban Support Regions, design shared-vehicle systems to serve station areas that have a Balance of J / H / S / R / A.

These four steps would provide Mobility and Access to support economic, social and physical activity.

Within New Urban Regions:

The excess roadway capacity within the Clear Edges that results from the creation of Balanced and functional settlement patterns supported by shared-vehicle systems can be devoted to Openspace and Recreational uses.

In the Countryside – outside the Clear Edges around Urban agglomerations of all sizes – there is already adequate roadway capacity when relative Balance is achieved within the Urbansides.

Inter Regional Mobility and Access:

To conserve energy; move freight and some long distance passenger service from truck and air to rail.

Implement interregional weight distance fees to pay the cost of maintaining InterRegional facilities.

A fair allocation of the full location-variable costs and a carbon tax on transportation fuel will result in a Balance of Urban systems, Conservation of resources and reduced need for travel and infrastructure without lowering quality of life / health safety and welfare / happiness and safety of citizens.

The questions is:

Will citizens hold those who seek public office to a realistic standard of honesty with respect to what is possible in the future?

It is daft to think that after years of subsidizing dysfunctional human settlement patterns there is some way to improve Mobility and Access (or provide Jobs) without Fundamental Transformation of settlement patterns and Fundamental Transformation of governance structure that results in a fair allocation of location-variable costs.

EMR


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Comments

29 responses to “TRANSPORT STRATEGY DISASTER”

  1. What percent of the population should live within the clear edge?

  2. E M Risse Avatar

    Groveton:

    It would vary from NUR to NUR.

    For the the Washington Baltimore New Urban Region, Wash COG put the current numbers inside the logical location for the Clear Edge around the two SubRegional Cores at around 85 percent of the Jobs, 70 percent of the Households.

    If one adds in the Clear Edges around the Urban components of the potential Balanced But Disaggegated Communities in the Countryside you are up to around 90 percent of the Jobs and 80 percent of the Households.

    As Balance grows inside the Clear Edges the numbers would be closer to 95 percent Jobs and 95 percent Households with MORE Openspace inside the Clear Edges. (About 5 percent of the Households derive significant economic support from NonUrban Jobs.)

    Recall the 87.5 Percent Rule suggests only 12.5 percent of the dwellings built between 1980 and 2000 that would NOT fit within Balanced Communties.

    In other NURs and in USRs the numbers would be higher or lower but not by much.

    The last time SYNERGY Looked at the logical location for the Clear Edge was in the early 00s. The Wrong Size House, Wrong Location Boom of the mid 00s has driven up the numbers outside the Clear Edge but not the logical location.

    Your dwelling is, of course, well inside the logical location of the Clear Edge.

    The graphics that will be on the TRILO-G DVD will help make this clear.

    EMR

  3. Just thinking in terms of numbers…

    Virginia has 43,000 sq mi of land and 7.8M people.

    So, 10% of the land is 4,300 sq mi. Half open space yields 2,150 sq mi.

    95% of the population is 7.4M. That's a density of 3,441 per sq mi.

    The city of Richmond has about the same population density today (assuming I got all the math right).

    That seems reasonable to me.

    However, the math also leaves only 400,000 people living outside the clear edge. So much for rural vs. urban politics.

  4. here's a better one….

    metro areas with housing bubbles:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/03/03/us/20090303_LEONHARDT.html

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Shared vehicle systems will suck down money providing limited mobility and access to a few people until more people realize they cost MORE and do less than individual vehicles.

    RH

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    "What percent of the population should live within the clear edge?"

    EMR has previously said that 95% of the population should live on 5% of the land.

    Now he is hedging, or becomingmore realistic.

    He has completely gone soft if he really thinks that only 5% of urban support comes from nonurban spaces.

    We build about 1.5 million homes a year. If 12.5% of them are in the wring places, that's 3.5 million homes, over 20 years. $825 billion dollars worth of investment we would have to abandon and recreate.

    Somehow, I don't think that is about to happen.

    RH

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    "The Wrong Size House, Wrong Location Boom of the mid 00s has driven up the numbers outside the Clear Edge but not the logical location."

    The logical location is fixed for all time, regardless of reality that happens in the meantime?

    ————————

    Groveton is right though. How do you choose the 400,000 who wil get to enjoy 95% of the state?

    EMRs plan is to make it arrane the market such that it is so expensive that only people like Groveton (and up) can hope to afford to live there.

    He will be able to afford to do that because his lot will be subdivided 5000 times to make room inthe "right place" for hodes of people who don;t belong in the countryside.

    ————————-

    EMR thinks 95% of jobs belong in urban spaces, but that is completely ignoring trends that have become well established since I first ponted them out here ten years ago.

    RH

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Shared-vehicle systems will provide Mobility and Access to serve the settlement patterns necessary to support ——
    shared vehicle systems.

    RH

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    "congestion has gotten worse in every large urban agglomeration in the US of A. "

    The Texas transportation study also documents that it has gotten worse less quickly in thos places that have spent the most on roadways.

    RH

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    "A fair allocation of the full location-variable costs and a carbon tax on transportation fuel will result in a Balance of Urban systems, Conservation of resources and reduced need for travel and infrastructure without lowering quality of life / health safety and welfare / happiness and safety of citizens."

    This is simply nonsense. A fair allocation of full location variable costs would mean that urba areas would have to pay MUCH MORE for the services provided to them by non urban areas.

    A carbon tax on transportation fuels will conserve SOME resources, at the expense of others. CONSERVATION COSTS MONEY. Which is exactly what EMR is proposing.

    I don't have a problem wiht conservation: I have a problem with morons who propose conservation AT ANY COST. Conservation is a product that should have a price on it and that price should be determined by the MARKET, not by simply IMPOSING a carbon tax or any other kind of pollution (or development) tax.

    Command and control conservation is a dead issue, because WE KNOW IT DOES NOT WORK.

    When the Urban Areas PAY FOR THE BENEFITS THEY GET, we will find out what a fair allocation of resources is.

    We can ALREADY SEE THIS HAPPENIMG beaus the current conservation bill proposes, among other things, PAYING farmers to plant their fields in trees. This is ironic, considering how many acres ahve aready reverted to forest, but as long as we are willing to pay for it, I'll be happy to stop busting my hump and plant a hundred acres of trees, and watch the checks roll in.

    Unless my current customers are willing to pay more that Dept of Agriculture will pay.

    —————————

    Then of course, there is the queston of what we will (eventually) do with all that wood. We can't just let it rot, becasue that produced CO2.

    For real sequestration, talk to Stradivarius, to see how it is done.

    RH

  11. If conserving a resource saves you money then why does it "cost"?

    If you can conserve heat by keeping your front door closed -or the lights in the bathroom off when you don't use it – is that a "cost"?

    I've heard you make the conservation "costs" statement before but does it always have to be that you must purchase something (a cost) in order to conserve?

    I would agree.. that some kinds of conservation require money and that the calculation is how long it takes to pay back but if what you are doing when consuming a resource – is also polluting – isn't that a cost also if there is too much pollution?

    For instance – in an urban area like Washington – it has been determined that there is too much air pollution and conserving that results in less pollution reduces costs – right?

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    "The cost of using Large, Private Vehicles has gone up and will go up further."

    So has the cost of shared vehicles.

    RH

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    "If you can conserve heat by keeping your front door closed -or the lights in the bathroom off when you don't use it – is that a "cost"?"

    Clearly there is such a thing as preventing outright waste, but even with your examples there are limits: how do you get in and out of your house if you keep the door closed? Which trips in and out are expendable so you can keep the door closed? How busy does the door have to be before it makes sense to just leave it open?

    Trivial, of course, but so is your example.

    ——————————

    After preventing outright waste that we really can do essentially for free, we get to conservation that we have to pay for, one way or another. Like EMR's suggestion that we have a big carbon tax on transportation fuels.

    Most conservation efforts cost money, and the question is a)whether the payback is worth the cost? and b) Do you have the money in the first place?

    "If conserving a resource saves you money then why does it "cost"?"

    it is the IF part that troubles me. Often we ASSUME that the savings outweigh the costs, or we ignore the costs entirely.

    IF, and it is a big IF, a plan savesyou more than it costs then clearly it is saving money and it shold go in the – To Be Considered – column. Then you rank it according to how much it will save vs how much it will cost, and you spend the money you have on the highest ranking ones first.

    Much as we would like to, we cannot just spend whatever it takes on everything that will make us more money. We can, of course, borrow more, but that has its own costs.

    ——————————-

    Finally, we get to increasing efficiency, which is often confused with conservation. The whole point of increasing efficiency is so that you can use MORE of the stuff. Anyone who thinks that more efficiency leads to less use, has got rocks in their head.

    ——————————–

    Finally, ususally when you conserve something, like money in your savings account it is so you can use it later.The bank pays you interest to make your conservation worth while. But we don;t have the same model when it comes to other kinds of conservation. Unlike the bank, we often think we have the right to steal other people's money, and call that conservation.

    Conservation has a different set of costs and benefits, spread out over the time until you get to use your resource. I put off buying a vcar today, to save money, but then I don't have a car – until later maybe.

    But if you are really talking about preservation when you say conservation, then that is just misleading. With preservation you put something aside and never use it, or enjoy it for its own merit. But unlesss the preservation is somehow spinning off money in return, then it is mainly sunk cost, which you never see again.

    Take my word for it, conservation costs money, and the more we are willing to spend, the more conservation we will have.

    RH

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Aren't you, in fact, using the door when you keep it closed?

    The door has a cost, around $250, plus taxes and maintenance, and it has benefits: it keeps out unwanted people and temperature.

    How long does the door do its job before it pays for itself? If the answer is never, why have a door?

    RH

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    I am betting that all this gobblety-gook will mean that my CSX stock will continue to go up in the longterm.

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    "There will be diminishing ability to truck goods long distances. Long distance trucking would have atrophied years ago but for gross subsidies. Truck fees and taxes now pay for only about 10 percent of the heavy goods vehicles impact on Roadways and almost nothing toward the impact on air and water resources."

    It is true that trucks don't pay enough. It does not follow that trucking would atrophy if they did. Trucks would not pay the cost, we would, in the form of higher costs for goods. Whether we pay for the roads and let the truckers use them for free or whther we pay the truckers to pay for the roads is a matter of transaction costs.

    There is no alternative to trucks except trains, and they need trucks at each end of the trip, so that is no true alternative.

    And, you can bet that if we "make the truckers pay" that will be a license for railroads to rais THEIR tarriffs.

    —————————-

    Suppose truckers pay for their impact on air and water resources.

    Are we any better off?

    No. They will pass the bill to us, and we will still have the air and water impacts.

    The only way we are better off is if we use the trucker tax to offset our other taxes, so we can afford to pay the higher prices for trucked goods.

    There would be some impetus to truck goods less distance. But that benefit will be subsumed if local production is less efficient than production in the "right" location.

    You wind up changing the sizes of the circles in a Venn diagram without changes the area of inetersection. It is hard to see how we wind up better off.

    RH

    RH

  17. I do not subscribe to the concept that most conservation costs money.

    If you combine two errands into one trip – that is saving you money – not costing you money.

    If you decide that you want to do the two separate trips and you'll save money by buying a car that gets twice the gas mileage then yes…

    but this is a dumb concept.

    Most situations do not require buying something to "save money".

    Some situations involved paying more initially that saves money in the longer run.

    Longer burning bulbs come to mind but you don't throw away your current ones – you wait until they need replacing then you decide whether you want a better payback (or not).

    It does not cost more money to ride a van to work instead of driving solo every day.

    It very much "conserves" – your time, your money, the pollution, wear & tear on your car,

    the argument would be what do you lose when you do this.. and what you lose is some flexibility in your schedule.. and you have to decide if "saving" is worth it

    but that's not a "cost" in terms of dollars.. it's a "cost" in terms of convenience … of which you can choose to pay more for (by solo driving) if that is what is important to you.

    but the act of carpooling is NOT Conservation that costs.

    If everyone carpooled instead of driving solo.. you'd have much less pollution, much less congestion, and much lower taxes needed to essentially try to "buy down" congestion…

  18. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    What a bunch of baloney the article is – but I found the comments useful.

    Obviously flying cars are the right solution moving forward. Problem solved as far as adding more lane capacity within settled areas.

    Obviously solar energy is a viable solution to power the flying cars. Problem solved as far as the use of unsustainable finite fossil fuels and the adverse impact to the environment due to “carbon footprints”.

    Too much of the "thinking" about "dysfunctional human settlement patterns" herein is based on the premise that privately owned vehicle will remain bound to travel on the surface of the planet. It isn’t. That is simply a lack of vision that limits one’s view to such constraints.

    You see, we don't have to give up our freedom of mobility and our independence from dictates of bureaucratically controlled, massively taxpayer subsidized, government mass transit when we begin to consider new ways to accommodate privately owned vehicles to move us around.

    All you fans of urban develop espouse “build up, not out”, right? Why do you fail to advocate the same for our transportation systems of the future?

    Why not start to think outside the "box" my friends?

    Too many "flat earthers" seem to feel they are the self-anointed gurus destined to guide future options for where we live, where we work, and how we should travel between the two destinations.

    And of course … perhaps the future might allow even greater use of working from home and thus reducing the need to commute?

    Not for all jobs – but for many.

    Recently the architectural firm my wife works for decided to become virtual. They have given up their lease of the past 10 years and their staff now works from home using computers, instant messaging, and commercial currier services to deliver paper copies of documents they are sent electronic to required government departments that still require “paper”.

    This change will save the firm my wife works for a significant overhead cost. And … one of her coworkers just relocated to Charlotte NC – because it doesn’t matter where he lives anymore. He still works “in” Virginia Beach, albeit on the other side of an electronic highway that connects him with the rest of his coworkers, management, and customers.

    The future may well allow many of us to enjoy the fantastic quality of life we now enjoy – and traffic congestion isn’t even a consideration. I look forward to my flying car. Just think of the view I will enjoy as I commute even farther than I do now, in less time!

    Innovation can make the future even BETTER than today. And THAT is the type of “visionary” leadership I’m interesting in supporting.

  19. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    What a bunch of baloney the article is – but I found the comments useful.

    Obviously flying cars are the right solution moving forward. Problem solved as far as adding more lane capacity within settled areas.

    Obviously solar energy is a viable solution to power the flying cars. Problem solved as far as the use of unsustainable finite fossil fuels and the adverse impact to the environment due to “carbon footprints”.

    Too much of the "thinking" about "dysfunctional human settlement patterns" herein is based on the premise that privately owned vehicle will remain bound to travel on the surface of the planet. It isn’t. That is simply a lack of vision that limits one’s view to such constraints.

    You see, we don't have to give up our freedom of mobility and our independence from dictates of bureaucratically controlled, massively taxpayer subsidized, government mass transit when we begin to consider new ways to accommodate privately owned vehicles to move us around.

    All you fans of urban develop espouse “build up, not out”, right? Why do you fail to advocate the same for our transportation systems of the future?

    Why not start to think outside the "box" my friends?

    Too many "flat earthers" seem to feel they are the self-anointed gurus destined to guide future options for where we live, where we work, and how we should travel between the two destinations.

    And of course … perhaps the future might allow even greater use of working from home and thus reducing the need to commute?

    Not for all jobs – but for many.

    Recently the architectural firm my wife works for decided to become virtual. They have given up their lease of the past 10 years and their staff now works from home using computers, instant messaging, and commercial currier services to deliver paper copies of documents they are sent electronic to required government departments that still require “paper”.

    This change will save the firm my wife works for a significant overhead cost. And … one of her coworkers just relocated to Charlotte NC – because it doesn’t matter where he lives anymore. He still works “in” Virginia Beach, albeit on the other side of an electronic highway that connects him with the rest of his coworkers, management, and customers.

    The future may well allow many of us to enjoy the fantastic quality of life we now enjoy – and traffic congestion isn’t even a consideration. I look forward to my flying car. Just think of the view I will enjoy as I commute even farther than I do now, in less time!

    Innovation can make the future even BETTER than today. And THAT is the type of “visionary” leadership I’m interesting in supporting.

  20. geeze what a nightmare – putting folks with cellphones in flying cars…

    we'd end up with cars dropping like bird poop … all over the landscape wouldn't we?

    but the last part about where the jobs are and where they are not and what constitutes a physical job is what completely invalidates EMR's "disaster".

    Take the BRAC and Fort Belvoir – move a few jobs and what happens? It plays holy heck with "balance" and existing transport infrastructure configured for a different job geography.

    We've got all of these NURs in manufacturing areas that are becoming NUR-lites .. now how do they get themselves back in balance?

    they don't ..they end up with excess housing stock and infrastructure.. …

    EMR fails to address the dynamic nature of our economy. His theories assume that everything stays the way it is in terms of job distribution while he convinces the powers to be to go in and rearrange things for better balance…

    the fact that the jobs themselves might being going away or going somewhere else is just one of those nasty details that tends to screw up the theory.

  21. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Larry, … no need for the flying cars to drop from the skies. There are many, many technical solutions to prevent that type of problem.

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    "geeze what a nightmare – putting folks with cellphones in flying cars…

    we'd end up with cars dropping like bird poop … all over the landscape wouldn't we?"

    No, those vehicles will be on autopilot with autamatic collision avoidance.

    Don't look now, but it is arleady happening. Congress just put up another $500 million for the next generation air traffic system – NEXTGEN. The bill has a REQUIREMENT that FAA make provision for unmanned aircraft in the airspace by 2012.

    Shortly after that, expect FEDEX to start flying freight with no pilots on board.

    A few yers ago a sailboat took me and the owner from Norfolk to the Bahamas. Neither one of us touched the controls for six days, and that thing sailed right up to the jetty in Marsh Harbour.

    If you have a problem with human error, just take the humans out of the loop.

    Sounds like a good plan for the governors race.

    RH

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    Reid: I worked for a virtual company for a few years. It was weird working with people all over the country, but it saved the company a bundle.

    And since my office was at home I had no commuting expense. Not only that, but when I did go somewhere to attend a meeting, it was 100% business expense and reimbursable from office to office, just as if I had first driven to a real office.

    RH

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    "I do not subscribe to the concept that most conservation costs money."

    You don't have to subscribe: it is still a fact.

    Really good conservation does in fact make money: usually we call that a business. Businesses conserve labor through specialization and division of labor, and we are happy to pay them for the effort they save us.

    But most conservation is NOT "really good conservation" and that is why we have to resort to stealing to get it. Of COURSE conservation doesn't cost money – if you steal it.

    ——————————-

    "I live right near the Metro in a high-density suburban area. Yet I don't take the Metro to my Arlington office, which is about two minutes from a Metro stop. I'd rather do the 37-minute drive. Why? Because I stop at the supermarket and the public library on my way home at least half of the time or maybe I stop to eat at Thai Thai. If those conveniences were right next to my house I'd consider the Metro but they're not. "

    From a a comment on a blog post about high speed rail.

    Now you use the example of chained trips as "conservation" but here is an example of why chained trips do nothing for conservation (rail travel) and are even used as a reason why rail travel is not efficient.

    RH

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    "…but the act of carpooling is NOT Conservation that costs."

    Horse manure. You could not pick a worse example. We built car pool lanes and we couldn't get anyone to suse them, so we redefined a carpool as HOV2.

    It cost a fortune which wiped out and environmental conservation we may have gotten. It never paid.

    We still couldn't get it to work, and it didn't solve the problem, so now we are going to redefine car poll lanes as HOT lanes, under which we let people pay for the privilege of not "conserving" by using car pools.

    It is EXACTLY this kind of whishful thinking and refusal to face facts which leads us to bad environmental decisions.

    We decided thirty years ago that Metro and carpools were a great idea. It turns out we were wrong, but we are so invested in the theology, we refuse to see the truth.

    Car drivers are paying for the blue line extension, and the "Purple line" extension and Columbia Pike Extension won't even be Metro – it will be light rail.

    How wrong do we have to be for how many years before we wake up? How long do we fiddle on one string before we decide this is no way to get a symphony?

    Not only are we not getting a symphony, but frequently we are stealing the string.

    AARRGH

    RH

  26. carpooling does not require an HOV lane guy….

    2 guys get in one car and save a whole nother car operating expenses minus some small penalty for adding 200 lbs to the first.

    getting 4 guys in that car saves even more….

    getting 15 in a van saves even more…

    etc, etc, etc

    this is not "wishful thinking" guy.. I hate to tell you.

    and it IS called conservation and it DOES save money…

    you need to come back from the way back machine.

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