Which Is More Efficient: Road or Rail?

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and members of the General Assembly haven’t yet said publicly where they expect to raise more money for transportation, but there’s little doubt about one thing: Wherever the money comes from, more of it will go to light and heavy rail than in the past.

I happen to be agnostic on the great rail-versus-road debate. I just want Virginia’s transportation dollars to be invested to the greatest effect possible, as measured by objective criteria such as mobility provided, pollution reduced and traffic congestion mitigated. If that means building dirt paths for foot-powered scooters, then I’m OK with it.

What worries me is that a lot of people regard commuter rail as an end to itself — regardless of the cost or benefits. In theory, light rail passenger trains can move many people as eight lanes of freeway. That’s why rail buffs often advocate running light rail lines down the center of freeways in preference to adding more lanes of asphalt. In the real world, though, rail traffic can be constrained by people’s ability to get to the train stations, and a host of other factors.

Writing for the Independent Institute website, John Semmens quotes a Arizona Department of Transportation Research Center study that evaluated several alternatives: HOV lanes, HOT lanes, general purpose (GP) lanes and light rail. AzDOT calculated the cost per person-mile for each. The conclusion: HOT lanes that accommodate Bus Rapid Transit have the lowest cost.

I would hope that Virginia does similar cost-benefit calculations when transportation dollars are allocated. If such comparisons exist for, say, the Dulles Corridor or the I-95 corridor, I haven’t seen them. Maybe advocates of greater investments in rail can point to studies like Arizona’s in their support. But then, maybe the decision to shift money from road to rail has been made on a purely political basis, whether to garner favorable headlines, curry favor with particular interest groups or some reason unknown.

If the rail-versus-road studies are out there, I would surely love to see them. Someone please tell me where to find them.


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  1. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    ” I just want Virginia’s transportation dollars to be invested to the greatest effect possible, as measured by objective criteria such as mobility provided, pollution reduced and traffic congestion mitigated. If that means building dirt paths for foot-powered scooters, then I’m OK with it.”

    My sentiments exactly. Too bad that isn’t going to be what happens.

    RH

  2. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Apparently no matter which hoice you pick, you still need adequate roadways and parking.

    If nothing else, you need them so you will have enough drivers to pay the fares for the riders.

    RH

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Here’s an interesting headline:

    “Rise in Metro Ridership Seen After Fare Increase”

    “With More Riders, Agency’s Financial Squeeze Has Eased”

    … Ridership has grown in the three months since the agency’s largest fare increase in history went into effect, officials said.

    GAZOOKS!

    what the hey….

    I bet… when gas hits $4 bucks a gallon that METRO can increase their fares again.. to the point where the “subsidy” goes away…

    I know…market forces are SO unfair…. before we know it.. there will be cries to subsidize the price of gasoline…

    oh.. wait… we have folks already supporting that .. right?

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: efficient, effective mobility… including parking and Metro in the medians…

    If you took each interstate interchange and converted it to parking and passenger intermodal…arrive with car.. depart in carpool, BRT, van, OR METRO/light rail…

    Can’t be done….???

    Have a look:

    http://tinyurl.com/6deusl

    number one reason given – why we cannot do this? simple.. it’s too expensive…

    moral of the story – don’t use HOT lane tolls for METRO/VRE – use the money to retrofit the existing interchanges to be multi-modal transfer stations/parking lots.

    Each lot – has a real-time toll status.. and drivers can choose to switch modes.. or pay to drive SOLO with dedicated “on ramps”.

  5. Here’s an idea. How about not engaging in social engineering?

    If there’s a demand for rail, accommodate it with the users being charged exactly what it costs to provide that service.

    The fact is, 95% of the public drives in Virginia. Nobody uses mass transit; the ridership numbers are a joke. Look at PDF page 23 of the AZ report. San Diego spent $432 million to service an extra 10,800 passengers/year “by 2015” — that’s $40,000 per passenger. Even LA’s 125,000 alleged rail riders on a $1.3 billion boondoggle cost $10,480 each.

    I propose instead that we buy the San Diegans a brand new BMW 318i, and a new Hyundai for the ones in LA. It’d be cheaper.

    HOV lanes don’t work either. On PDF page 43 of the AZ report, the AM general purpose lanes carry more traffic per lane than the HOV lanes. The result is reversed in the PM — in other words, it’s a wash. When you consider the amount of extra cost, space, and accidents (see this study) it’s obviously not worth it. But like rail, the social engineers insist on forcing the public to adopt their habits.

    And just to send Mr. Gross off on a tangent: Independent Institute gets its cash from the same sources as Reason Foundation. AZDOT gets bucketloads from FHWA/USDOT, its collaborators in this study. Who ran USDOT when the report was written? A former vice president of Lockheed Martin IMS (now ACS State & Local Solutions). What does that division do? Toll roads and red light cameras.

    Washington listens to the opportunity on the other side of the revolving door. As a wise man recently said, “No one represents the toll road commuters.”

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    basically a legitimate (Texas Transportation Institue.. Texas A&M) report addressing higher crash rates resulting from the fact that most HOV is not barrier separated from the travel lanes and speed differential and probably some folks hopping back and forth between the two…

    it’s a HOT topic in the HOV Transportation world.. and was a discussion with the Va HOT lanes.

    but Bob..this report is no different than hundreds of others.. for instance.. reports showing the tradeoffs between converting shoulders to rush hour travel lanes (another hotly debated issue).

    unless the crash rates are shown to be worse than say.. rural roads which are twice as deadly as the interstates.. I doubt that it would mean the end of HOV.

    It MIGHT mean that they’ll have to barrier separate them or other measures .. something they could do with tolls but would have no funding for without tolls.

    I don’t buy your social engineering argument at all…

    so-called “free roads” are the ULTIMATE in social engineering…

    you’re taking money from everyone regardless of what they drive or how they drive or where or when they drive… to build facilities for some folks while not building facilities for others and the process is political and often driven by economic interests NOT the interests of commuters.

    what is your alternative to HOV or HOT?

    would you do away with the air quality rules?

    where would you get the money to build new lanes?

    My support of toll roads is not based on the fact that I think they are the absolute best solution but rather more pragmatic…

    the air rules are not going to go away.

    highway funding is kaput…

    the chances of getting the elected to vote in an increase in the gas tax.. SUFFICIENT to build significant congestion-reducing capacity is.. ZILTCH

    all of your conspiracy theories won’t change these things..

    all of these complaints will NOT result in new “free” lanes on I-95 or any other major road in Virginia.

    basically.. you are out of funding and out of options that do not include some form of tolling…

    on the merits -Bob – your vision to go forward..?

    I only ask that you stay somewhere between the reality lines…

  7. If you think tolling every road is somehow going to be more politically acceptable than higher gas taxes, you’re wrong as a matter of history. Privately funded toll roads are not a new idea. They have been the source of riots and unrest for centuries, and they’re causing political unrest today. Evidence:

    1. Pretty much everyone agrees Mitch Daniels blew a state House majority over two issues: toll privatization and daylight saving time.
    2. Red Ken “congestion pricing” Livingstone just got clobbered in London
    3. Congestion pricing referenda failed in Edingburgh and in Stockholm (all the municipalities, not just city center) — taking the down mayor who implemented it.
    3.Australia revolt, pdf report
    4. In Texas, “Trans Texas Corridor” has become a taboo word. story
    5. The 91 freeway HOT lanes sparked a mini-revolt, but it was pacified by the county buying the lanes for more than they cost to build.

    Is every place going to go torches and pitchforks over tolls? Of course not. Tolls have been fairly well played in California until now. USDOT is blowing it by trying to add tolls to existing freeways without expanding capacity — that cuts deeply against the culture.

    “you’re taking money from everyone regardless of what they drive or how they drive or where or when they drive…”

    Look, we’ve run the numbers. Motorists pay more in total taxes than is spent on maintenance and construction of the roads. Let’s get past the basic points so we can move on.

    “so-called “free roads” are the ULTIMATE in social engineering…”

    Sorry, but 95% of the public drives, 2% use transit. Social engineering is forcing 95% of the public to do what 2% want.

    “what is your alternative to HOV or HOT? would you do away with the air quality rules?”

    General purpose lanes. They’re the cheapest, simplest and most efficient. Less congestion = better air. And, absolutely I would get rid of the air quality rules. They’re not designed with protecting air quality in mind, they’re designed to steal driver dollars to fund mass transit. This doesn’t mean no rules, just not the ones that are there.

    “highway funding is kaput…”

    Nope. Highway funding is flat (inflation adjusted). The ‘Conservative’ alternative showed this. If more funds are needed after defunding mass transit and other non-road functions (freeing up a minimum of $600m/yr) and some bonds for large capital projects and we’re in good shape. If the gas tax needs to go up a bit, I’m ok with that. If people see results they won’t mind. People don’t like gas tax hikes because they know the money isn’t going to produce any benefit.

    Taking the toller propaganda at face value isn’t going to generate any new lanes either. I-95 is getting tolled to add one lane in only one direction. This on a road that can, without need of extra right-of-way, fit two more general purpose lanes in both directions. That, and accepting a market incentive to create congestion in alternative routes and free lanes is, well, not the brightest idea.

    The tolls Pennsylvania wants to add to I-80 won’t produce any new lanes. The “congestion charge” in NYC was going to take away lanes from drivers. The new HOT lane bribes being sent to LA and Chicago aren’t going to create any new lanes — they’re just going to be used to buy new buses. Read the press releases. The fact is, accepting tolls and per-mile taxation isn’t ever going to remove the gas tax. We’ll just get both. That is reality.

  8. Forgot to add one obvious point. The main reason tolls ultimately will not be politically acceptable is that drivers — i.e., 95% of the electorate — would pay 40% more for the same service if every road were tolled.

    It’s a standard con job technique to make someone think he will pay less and so should support a program, appealing to the “Don’t tax me, tax him!” instinct. Never mind that every aspect of the design, construction, financing and operation of a toll road is massively more expensive. The electorate does not make the phony distinction between a government-backed “toll” and a tax. I’m paying more than ever and things have gotten worse is going to be the response. It’s going to cost a lot more.

    1.8 Million Brits signed a petition to Tony Blair urging him to scrap the road pricing program — about 3-4 the number in percentage terms that signed the abuser fee petition.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Bob – TOLLS are already a reality and there has not been a single riot and for that matter.. not a single politician voted out of office..

    The public supports tolls 2 to 1 and yet you keep up the charade and they oppose raising the gas tax on the order of 80%.

    What is it that the public is going to “find out” that will cause them to change their mind about taxes?

    New general purpose lanes are NOT going to be built on I-95.

    Where would the money come from?

    Without changes, VDOT runs out of money in 2013 – regardless of your hand-waving ..ignore the realities….views…

    VDOT just cut the 6yr plan in HALF that means 1/2 the funding until 2013 at which point, VDOT completely runs out of new construction money.

    one penny on the gas tax brings in 80 million dollars for all of Virginia.

    gas tax revenues are actually declining because of higher gasoline prices.

    raising the gas tax with gasoline headed to $4 a gallon is not only political suicide but there is a strong likelihood that it would not bring in ANY extra money because the price of gasoline is causing people to cut back on gasoline purchases.

    It appears to me that your “plan” mostly consists of hand-waving away the realities and then using conspiracy theories to explain why the facts don’t match up with your realities.

    You cite the Texas Transportation Institute and the Reason Foundation as supporting your views but they don’t.

    Both of them are agreeing about the funding situation and the Reason folks support tolls and congestion pricing over taxes.

    As far as I know.. there is not a single elected person in Va that supports your views and between now and the end of June – we’ll find out what elected leaders in Virginia will actually do about funding and tolls….

    and I’m betting that none of your ideas will be implemented.

    why is that?

  10. Mr Gross, you cited one public opinion poll. I cited actual election results. I would hope you realize the difference in weight between the two. Congestion charging was the #1 issue in London. From Today’s London Evening Standard:

    — “People have already reached their limit on what they are prepared to take in terms of taxation, whether it’s the congestion charge or bin taxes,” a senior minister said. The comments came during an inquest into the defeat of Ken Livingstone by Boris Johnson and Labour’s worst town hall drubbing in 40 years was being held during a political session of Cabinet. —

    I think the Republicans in Indiana who lost their state house seats over Mitch Daniels’ Cintra-Macquarie deal would take issue with your comments as well.

    “New general purpose lanes are NOT going to be built on I-95.”

    So what benefit comes from tolling?

    “You cite the Texas Transportation Institute and the Reason Foundation as supporting your views but they don’t.”

    My serious doubts about your reading comprehension are confirmed if you think I’ve ever implied anything remotely complimentary about any word ever uttered by Reason Foundation on the subject of transportation.

    “Without changes, VDOT runs out of money in 2013 – regardless of your hand-waving ..ignore the realities”

    The numbers say otherwise. I cited numbers. The revenue chart in the “Conservative” alternative transportation plan, adjusted for inflation, have been flat for years. They will remain flat. VDOT is crying that it’s broke because that’s what agencies do. They lie to get more money.

    “As far as I know.. there is not a single elected person in Va that supports your views”

    Although it’s irrelevant that the collection of idiots that adopted the abuser fees 90-10 don’t support my views, I’d point out that Bob Marshall has been pushing a constitutional amendment for years that would prohibit the raid on transportation funding. That’s the most important half of my plan.

    In all seriousness, which do you think people are going to care more about: a 10 cent gas hike that raises $800 million/yr for real, new construction or paying $1 a mile to drive to work in the morning — that’s $20-40 per day — as congestion gets worse.

    In searching for the TxDOT’s lie, I ran across this presentation that I had forgotten about. Please read page 10. It’s a state transportation agency admitting that increasing congestion is a strategy to increase revenue.

  11. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “With More Riders, Agency’s Financial Squeeze Has Eased”

    That’s not what metro itself says. the metro website says riders pay for only 55% of operating costs. they still need to find money to make up the difference AND for new Capital Expenditures AND for deferred maintenance.

    Among other things, although the stations were designed for eight car trains they do not have the precision gear that will allow these trains to stop precisels at the station, as needed, nor do they have the elctric power to drive them.

    RH

  12. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “general purpose lanes carry more traffic per lane than the HOV lanes.”

    But do they carry more passengers?

    My understanding is that even though HOV lanes appear underutilized, they actually move more passengers than the other three lanes on Shirley Highway.

    Part of the answer is to get more people to car pool. The way to do that without social engineering, is to pay them.

    RH

  13. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    what is your alternative to HOV or HOT?

    Pay people to car pool. it will be cheaper, reduce more traffic, and it will work.

  14. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I believe Bob has the upper hand here on facts.

    I also beleive we will get stuck with Toll roads as larry suggests.

    People will hate them, as Bob suggests.

    They will be a huge waste of money, and people will realize they are being taxed twice, and getting little in retrurn.

    RH

  15. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I can’t imagine why anyone purporting to be an environmentalist would support a plan that will be such a huge waste.

    RH

  16. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I suspect that an honest poll of voters would show that their first choice would be to restrict development to locations where there are adequate public facilities and to require new development cover its infrastructure costs by increased taxes and impact fees/proffers. I think that, while Ray and Bob make valid points, about some problems with toll roads, most voters would not chose an increase in the gas tax, especially given today’s artificially high prices caused by both Republicans and Democrats failure to put a lid on commodities speculation. Under these circumstances, they’d still pick toll roads over a gas ta hike. Third, I suspect that a majority of voters would indicate their disbelief in the willingness of elected officials to use additional transportation tax revenues for projects that actually improved transportation performance, rather than enrich the real estate holdings of their big campaign contributors.

    TMT

  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “upper hand on the facts”

    if your only strategy is to splat selective articles out of context .. perhaps…

    The pro-road folks are living in a dream world out of touch with fiscal, physical and political realities.

    re: “paying people to carpool”

    Bob – what say you?

    should ALL the non-HOV travel lanes be tolled and the proceeds offered to those who would then use the HOV Lanes?

    I suspect that Bob won’t like this idea since he does not like HOV to start with…

    RH’ suggestion does pass the smell test.. but no where in the world is it used… as far as I know…

    and both RH and Bob talk about the tremendous waste and expense of EZ-pass … so.. how would the plan to pay people work?

    but give RH credit.. at least he has a proposal whereas it appears that Bob has none.

  18. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    If it’s not used anywhere, maybe I can take credit for a new idea.

    On the other hand, maybe there is a reason it isn’t used anywhere.

    My idea is based on the premise that we as a public agree that it would be better if we had more car pools. That we recognize the waste in using individual cars, but we also recognize the hassle of car pools.

    If that is the situation, then we ought to be able to make the case that those that pay (in the regular lanes) get something for their money. They get people out of their lanes by having them take car pools.

    But, if Bob is correct, and this whole issue is a created one. One that is the result of a select few pressing the social engineering agenda, then my premise is wrong and you will never sell the idea.

    I suspect the same argument holds for HOT lanes. Despite what Larry’s polls say (There’s a big difference between what people say they want and what they will pay for.) If there isn’t a pretty big body of support for HOT lanes, they will fail. If that happens, they will really cost a bundle. (Buy them back for more than they cost to build.)

    I don’t see where the support comes from. people in the regular lanes get no relief or very little. And the sit there getting bitter, comforted by their guns and religion, while they watch the Lexi whizzing by.

    It’s a PR fiasco.

    RH

  19. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Ray with your pay to carpool argument there is a problem

    The real underreported benefit of the HOT lanes is free flowing traffic for buses

    Under your proposal all of the lanes will be filled up and the buses will crawl along with everyone else. With no benefit with taking the bus all of these people will return to their cars increasing congestion.

    Also from an enviromental perspective instead of at least two free flowing lanes you will have six stop and go wear and tear idling killing enviromental quality lanes.

    __________________________________

    I wonder how much you would have to pay people to carpool.

    It would be intereseting to see if people are motivated more by saving time (Pro HOT) or getting money (Pro Rays idea)

    NMM

  20. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “If that is the situation, then we ought to be able to make the case that those that pay (in the regular lanes) get something for their money. They get people out of their lanes by having them take car pools.”

    Ray much respect but don’t follow the logic

    From the persons perspective they get the same slow congested stop and go commute as the solo driver. The only thing they get is some cash.

    ___________________________________

    HOT is a way to ensure maximum usage of HOV lanes (I would argue everybody wins) There is an incentive to carpool and lanes are maximized by allowing single users to pay to use excess capacity. Users of the normal lanes benefit from the carpoolers and the higher paying single drivers

    The fallacy with private HOT is you are using a good HOT idea but then instead of the profits going to the government they are going to a private company

    Virginia should be building and benefiting from HOT not a private organization.

    NMM

  21. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    As the result of the speculation depends on the actual market price of the security or commodity in question at the time agreed upon, how is it that speculators drive the price of the actual commodity they trade in?

    I can speculate on whether the price of oil goes up, without actually taking possesion of the oil. But I only “win” my “bet” if someone who actually needs the oil buys it at aprice higher than mine – and takes deleivery.

    ??

    RH

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    RH (Bob) – here’s where ya’ll are wrong.

    You both pre-suppose that “someone” is out to force people to carpool.

    and that is wrong for a number of reasons…

    what “someone” is doing is this:

    1. – they are saying that Washington DC must deal with the air pollution caused by autos.

    2. – as long as the bad air exceeds standards.. new roads that will add more pollution will not be allowed.

    3. – pay attention here…

    the highway “capacity” problem .. is one of too many cars trying to use the roads at the same time.

    the policy.. is to encourage people to NOT drive SOLO at rush hour – as opposed to getting them all to carpool at rush hour.

    In other words – you are letting THEM decide from a number of different options what they prefer to do.

    Some will never carpool.. but they might van pool or they might shift their hours so that at least on some days… they will avoid driving at rush hour.

    It has been estimated in some studies that as much of 40% of rush hour traffic is NOT folks trying to get from home to work and thus has some discretionary aspects to it.

    but the goal is to not force everyone into a one-size-fits-all solution (carpooling) but rather encourage people to do something other than solo rush hour commuting IF it fits into options that work for them.

    People are NOT being forced to do anything but at the same time – new rush hour capacity is NOT going to be provided for them to continue as before.. in part because there is no money to do so and in part because of the need to maintain minimum air quality standards.

    Both you and Bob claim that people are being “forced” to do something when the facts and the reality are that, instead, they will no longer be catered to or prioritize funding for rush hour solo commuting.

    if “congestion” … costs people money.. then tell me again why they should not have the option to buy less congestion?

    Seems to me that having an option to pay is way better than not having an option at all…and yet youse guys characterize this as “forcing” people…

    and I did ask Bob if he thought that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or the Powhite Parkway was “forcing” people to pay tolls.. and he preferred to go fiddle some more with GOGGLE searches of studies to “prove” than HOV is wrong…

    the fact that HOV and HOT are used worldwide .. and expanding…. seems to faze you guys not.. in terms of what the facts and realities are…

    how can someone have the “facts” on their side but the realities are 180 degrees from those “facts” and the reason given is that there are nefarious and corrupt social conspiracies behind it all…???

  23. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: private vs government “HOT”

    If the arrangement is that the private company is guaranteed a specific rate of return (like Dominion is) – and in the HOT lane case, everything above that goes to the Government..

    not sure why this is not good.

    and to be perfectly honest – if you look at the PROCESS that is being used …by the government.. to determine the best use of the funds that accrue to the “government”…I just see it similar but different versions of the same evil.

    At the the company would benefit it’s investors who would likely plow that money back into the capital market whereas “government” plans to spend it in ways that some feel is not cost-effective at all… like “buying” one-thousand dollar seats on VRE – for commuters who already make twice the average salary of RoVa folks…

    so.. hey… Ray is right after all.. we’re PAYING people to use VRE and METRO.. right?

    The difference is that the money comes only from those who willingly pay – a quid pro quo transaction rather than unfairly and arbitrarily charging everyone no matter what…

    and that’s the part that I find amusing…

    Ray talks about “penalizing” people and “forcing” them to do what they don’t want to do but apparently has no problem with do that exact thing to everyone… a “more fair” approach?

  24. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Ray much respect but don’t follow the logic.”

    OK, Right now we have car pool lanes, but they are underutilized. This angers those stuck in the regular lanes.

    At present, the incentive to car pool is that you get your own lane, the disincentive is that it takes time, cuts down on independence, and it’s a hassle.

    The fact that the lanes are underutilized suggests that the “cost” of using them is too high.

    What we are doing now is examining ways to increase the use of those lanes, preferably by increasing car pools.

    We started by reducing the lane or HOV restrictions. Because of that we have the ridiculous moniker HOV-2 on Rte 66. And we open those lanes for bad weather or special events. Both of these are an indication of market failure.

    (Am I correct in thinking that the Shirley lanes were originally buses only, and were later converted to bus and car pool?)

    HOT lanes basically concede defeat. What they say is that you can pay extra to drive in your own lane, even without the social conscience required to operate a car pool. Whatever that price turns out to be, it will be roughly the cost of operating a car pool. It will be a little bit less, because otherwise people would prefer to car pool than to pay the additonal price to drive alone.

    Where will the HOT lane vehicles come from? Some will come from the regular lanes, and for each car that becomes a HOT car those in the regular lanes enjoy less congestion on a one for one basis.

    The enjoy that for “free” because the HOT lane user pays the entire toll. (We know it isn’t really free, because the state is going to be holding the bag on HOT lanes.)

    The Other Place HOT cars will come from is from people who break up their car pools. Each time that happens the HOV (now HOT) lanes enjoy the prospect of more congestion on a two or three to one basis. The regular lane drivers get no benefit from this.

    And, once tolls are in place the HOV or car pool drivers will get squeezed out anyway.

    And all of this will happen becuse the HOV lanes are underutilized.

    ——————————-

    Under My Plan, everyone in the conventional lanes gets tolled: it is your penalty for driving alone. Because everyone gets tolled the toll is small, not like a buck a mile as proposed for the hot lanes.

    That money is pooled and used to incentivize or pay people to use the HOV lanes, using car pools. No solo drivers allowed. Because many more people drive alone than car pool, the incentives can be substantial. It might even be equivalent to running a commercial jitney.

    Where will they come from? They can only come from one place – the conventional lanes. And every time that happens you take not one car out of the conventional lanes as under the HOT plan, you take three out. We know you only have to reduce the demand a little to make a big dent in congestion, so the conventional lane users should see an immediate improvement in what they get for the money they pay.

    And you solve the problem of underused HOV lanes – by using them for HOV vhicles. We actually get the social engineering we all seem to claim we want. We get more car pools, and less congestion, less pollution.

    —————————-
    This plan requires Easy Pass, same as the HOT lanes.

    But since we are apparently going to get stuck with HOT lanes and Easy Pass anyway, that isn’t a discriminator.

    ——————————–

    Caveat. If you succeed in reducing traffic in the conventional lanes this way, it will have exactly the same effect as adding a new lane or a new parallel metro line or anything else that reduces traffic.

    It will offer the opportunity for more latent traffic to travel: what we call induced traffic.

    RH

  25. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “The real underreported benefit of the HOT lanes is free flowing traffic for buses”

    Yes, but either way the idea is to increse usage of the lanes so they won’t be underutilized.

    What’s the difference? Waht makes you think car pools will fil the lae faster than HOT vehicles?

    RH

  26. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    in other words.. the same “incredibly expensive and wasteful” tolling technology is just fine if we do the tolls a different way ….

    and here I thought that Ray was opposed because it was a stupid and expensive idea..to start with..

    I bet Bob is going to be more true to his principles…

    “KILL any and ALL forms of tolls and HOV”

    Now THAT’s a CONSISTENT position.

    buck it up RH.. don’t get all wobbly on us..

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    not sure why this is not good.

    It’s not good because it’s supposed to be a user pays scheme. Under that model the user would pay for what the gets, and no more. Otherise it is no longer “user pays” but a transfer of wealth under which he pays for benefits other people get.

    Under my plan the money that is paid by road users is paid to road users, and the value of what is paid for and gotten in return is equal (less the overhead for EZ pass to manage the transaction). Any user has a choice of being on either side of the equation if they think one side is unfair, they can choose the other side.

    ——————————-

    “but apparently has no problem with do that exact thing to everyone… “

    My going in premise is that “We” as a society have decided that carpools are a thing worth having. if they are worth having they are worth paying for.

    If that is correct, then I’m not forcing anyone todo anything. But if Bob is correct, and the whole cockup is a social engineering plan being imposed by an elite few, then you are correct.

    And the same thing would hold for HOT lanes. The “costs” only look different.

    RH

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: …”….Yes, but either way the idea is to increse usage of the lanes so they won’t be underutilized.”

    geeze Ray.. how can you get things so totally wrong?

    guy.. it’s not the lanes… never was the lanes.. never was about the lanes…

    was/is and will be ALWAYS about too many solo vehicles at rush hour.

    You want to maximize the number of folks per vehicle.. and minimize the numbers of vehicles.

    So.. buses and van pools are worth “more” than carpools and if push comes to shove – you dump enough of the carpools to insure that the buses actually provide a service that encourages ridership.

    That’s what people want.

    They don’t want carpooling or not as their ONLY option.

    They want a range of options for them to get a timely trip to/from work…

    your plan basically is all about filling the empty spaces on HOV…

  29. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “was/is and will be ALWAYS about too many solo vehicles at rush hour.”

    But HOT lanes will INCREASE the number of solo vehicles, and put them in the HOV lanes to increase the utilization.

    ———————————

    “.. never was about the lanes…”

    The whole reason this issue has come up is that day after day, people in the convential lanes look at all the “unused” space in the HOV lanes, and they think it’s a waste.

    Of course, a lot of that “space” is already used, because it is needed to accomodate the higher speeds.

    Of course it’s about the lanes. I think most people could care less about car pools: they just want to get to work with the least hassle. If they cared about car pools, or if the thought car pools were worth while, then we would have plenty of them.

    My plan makes them worth while. But it doesn’t guarantee most people will think they are worth while. Therefore, if my plan fails, we can give up yammering about car pools; we will have evidence people think it’s a farce of social engineering that they won’t put up with.

    RH

  30. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I still think tolls are a stupid and expensive idea. I just think if you are going to have them, then arrange them to support what you claim we need, and what users will pay for.

    Don’t use tham as an additional tax on NOVA for the benefit of ROVA, to allow more congestion, decrease car pools, and encourge businesses to relocate.

    RH

  31. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I’m more middle of the road than Bob. Tolls might be OK in some cases. We have tolls on Ferry boats and no one seems to mind.

    The problem I have with HOT lanes as presently marketed is that I think they are a complete and utter fraud.

    It is basically a pack of lies and misrepresentations, from end to end. Won’t do any of what is claimed, and is actually intended for something else entirely. it will make life more expensive, more complicated, more intrusive, more congested, and more polluted.

    No thanks.

    RH

  32. “KILL any and ALL forms of tolls and HOV”

    Correct! Although I must say that the RH concept of paying people to use HOV is a brilliant thought experiment. It helps draw out the issues involved.

    But in the end, it’s still social engineering — a morally righteous elite deciding that the habits of 95% of the public must be modified by the force of government. Drivers in the solo lanes would be tolled with the threats of fines and imprisonment for exercising their God-given right to travel if they refuse — that’s hardly a choice.

    The problem with social engineers is that they’re so set on molding the world in their own image that they never think about the unintended consequences.

    “You want to maximize the number of folks per vehicle.. and minimize the numbers of vehicles.”

    As I stated in a post last night, citing the AZDOT report, their numbers show the SR51 HOV lanes had fewer per-lane people-miles in the AM than general purpose lanes but more in the PM. In other words, HOV doesn’t work — or at least not to any extent that remotely makes up for the 56% increase in injury accidents they create.

    “The problem I have with HOT lanes as presently marketed is that I think they are a complete and utter fraud.”

    Well said. The idea that re-shuffling existing levels of traffic could ever reduce congestion is so utterly laughable that I can’t believe these guys get away with it. Multimillion dollar PR campaigns are worth every penny.

  33. Danny L. Newton Avatar
    Danny L. Newton

    I see a problem with assuming that more people per vehicle always results in more efficiency. If the second or third person in the car is just there to keep from getting a ticket or consumes more time going from original to final destination, then the multiple passenger vehicle is not as efficient as a single passenger vehicle.

    Many bus systems go empty or must run on schedules regardless of the number of passengers that are transported. Productivity is a major issue in transportation. Much of the cost of the Interstate was paid for out of productivity increases. Businesses generally do not resist taxes if you can offer them some kind of productivity increase that covers the tax.

    Maybe we all ought to get motorcycles since they tend to be 100% occupied unless they have an empty side car.

  34. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “a morally righteous elite deciding that the habits of 95% of the public must be modified by the force of government. “

    I probably agree, but I’m not sure we know. Suppose you had some way of finding out what people really think. Ans suppose 95% of the population came back and said we really, really need more car pools.

    If it turns out to be not a morally righteous elite, then is it still wrong, or is it a democratic agreement?

    My sense is that if you ask, most people are in favor of more car pools, just as they ar in favor of more transit. In the abstract. they think that if someone else makes a car pool or rides transit, then it makes their solo drive more convenient, so naturally they are in favor.

    But, when it comes time to actually pay the bills, the answer might be different. What my proposal does is ask how much we are willing to pay in order to get what we say we want.

    RH

    RH

  35. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “They want a range of options for them to get a timely trip to/from work…

    your plan basically is all about filling the empty spaces on HOV…”

    Well, right. My plan is about getting the max social ROI out of the investments we have, as you say, filling the empty spaces.

    I don’t think that is compatible with offering every citizen every possible “choice”. I could be wrong. We might reach one kind of social maximum using HOT lanes and some very similar and essentially equal social maximum some other way. if the other way is more egalitarian, it is probably better.

    RH

  36. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “If the second or third person in the car …. then the multiple passenger vehicle is not as efficient.”

    Danny is right. It is one of the unintended consequences of social engineering.

    Think of the erstwhile bus from Front Royal to the Pentagon. What did that bus and bus driver do all day? Nothing, but wait for the return trip home. Is that efficient?

    My favorite is the story of the lady who started a business so she could car pool. She drove her husband to work in a van, then picked up a load of city dogs for her romp in the country doggie day care. Later she took the dogs back and picked up her husband.

    Car pool lane and tax deductible trip. Brilliant.

    RH

  37. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Mr. Newton has a good point.. agreed.

    but I think you’re all wrong when you think that everyone has a right to drive whenever/whatever they want on roads they’ve already “paid” for.

    What happens when you run out of road and need more and new lanes cost 100 million a mile give or take?

    Who pays for that?

    let’s assume that everyone starts driving a plug-in electric and there is no pollution so the EPA allows new capacity as long as you can pay for it.

    Where do you get the money to add new lanes which would be on the order of 3 to 5 Billion dollars?

    and remember.. Hampton Roads/Tidewater.. they’re going to want the same deal.. you’re certainly not going to tax them to pay for NoVa roads…

    so where does the money come from?

  38. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    and remember.. taxing people to pay for new lanes is social engineering also.

    agreed?

  39. RH: “And suppose 95% of the population came back and said we really, really need more car pools.”

    That’s just it. You don’t need to have the government tell you to carpool. If the public supports carpooling, the public will do so.

    Many in the public are pro-carpooling — as long as it’s someone else giving up the freedom to come & go as they please. Likewise, the public is pro-transit — as long as its not them sitting next to the crackhead on the bus. The public is pro-obeying the speed limit — as long as it’s not them absurdly putzing along at 40 MPH on I-395 through the District of Columbia.

    “What happens when you run out of road and need more and new lanes cost 100 million a mile give or take? Who pays for that?”

    Yeah, that’s what a toll road boondoggle in Maryland costs. Expanding lane capacity on roads that already have sufficient right-of-way, like I-95, have a construction cost of $6m/mile. My source is Florida DOT, as cited earlier. Who pays for the expansion? The motorists who are already paying billions to the government.

    “Where do you get the money to add new lanes which would be on the order of 3 to 5 Billion dollars?”

    Like any good business, you borrow. There’s no need to come up with, say, $5b in a single year. The state’s cost of borrowing is significantly lower than the private sector’s.

    If reforming VDOT and dumping transit off the backs of drivers is not an option politically, then 10c/gallon for a well-defined road building project — with no theft of money for transit & bicycles — would go over much better than “Pay $20/day to drive to work.” And, yes, you’d have to have some roads in Hampton Roads/Tidewater. They’d be cheaper there anyway.

    There’s more than enough fat in the VDOT budget to float $5b over 15-30 years, no problem. Cf. Dulles rail.

  40. “and remember.. taxing people to pay for new lanes is social engineering also. agreed?”

    Nope, because we’re not taxing people we’re taxing drivers. Taxing drivers to enable drivers to drive is quite sensible.

    You need coercion (social engineering) to force the majority to do what the elite want them to do.

  41. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    ..”If reforming VDOT and dumping transit off the backs of drivers is not an option politically, then 10c/gallon for a well-defined road building project”

    You are wrong about support of transit. Most folks in urban areas support transit AND they support HOV.

    And you are really wrong about the 10 cent gas tax..

    The polls show that 80% of people are opposed to it.. and if you talk to folks in RoVa .. that 80% number is on the low end.

    Most folks who live and work in RoVa don’t need “extra lanes” and they do not take kindly to the idea of raising their gas taxes to pay for your extra lanes when you probably make 2-3 times what they do.

    Subsidizing commuting roads for those who want affordable housing that is grandiose in comparison to the way that most Virginians live IS social engineering…in the worst way.

    If you were only talking about taxing those that actually “needed” the toll roads – you’d be right.. but if you are talking about taxing all drives to pay for some drivers – then You ARE social engineering.

    Folks that solo commute every day on I-95 and who think that taxing folks in RoVa to pay for their extra commute lanes are seriously out of touch… with political realities to say nothing about the being out of touch with the realities of th price of oil.

    Face it Bob. you’ve picked a very expensive lifestyle to maximize your salary and to have “more” house and you now want others to subsidize your lifestyle.

    If that’s not social engineering.. what is?

  42. “The polls show that 80% of people are opposed to it.. “

    I count myself among that 80%.

    The thing is, nobody believes there will be positive change in transportation. Higher taxes in the past have just meant money burned on buses that nobody uses. Why would anyone believe otherwise?

    “Face it Bob. you’ve picked a very expensive lifestyle to maximize your salary and to have “more” house and you now want others to subsidize your lifestyle.”

    I live inside the Beltway. There’s nothing grandiose about where I live. It’s just expensive and small with a postage stamp-sized lawn. There’s no need to personalize this when, uh, you have no idea who I am.

    If rural Virginia gets no benefit from its connection with the NOVA, then why not just split the state?

  43. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “There’s no need to personalize this when, uh, you have no idea who I am.

    You’re correct. I’m wrong. I do apologize. I was out of line. (and I probably owe Ray a couple also).

    re: “If rural Virginia gets no benefit from its connection with the NOVA, then why not just split the state?”

    Most (Many?) folks think that Virginia has a moral obligation to give each child a fair opportunity at an equivalent education regardless of where he/she lives – by equitable allocation of education resources to each child – the SOQs.

    Most folks in Va are fine with this though NoVa gets treated like a cash cow and there is some justifiable resentment as to just how much money should NoVa be “donating” if what results is a lowering of property taxes in the receiving jurisdiction.

    Because of this.. the state uses a formula to judge each localities relative wealth and ability to pay.

    For instance, Spotsylvania just lost some SOQ funding because the numbers show them better off than before.

    A similar approach is used for constitutional officers (public safety) .. and facilities and , in general facilities and services for those unable to fend for themselves – the young, poor, sick and elderly.

    That’s why the State does not “split” itself up.

    The State actually follows a similar but more limited theme for roads.

    At the State level – VDOT .. ASSURES a consistent and standardized approach to maintenance – statewide.. to make sure that the important connecting roads of the state – the Primary roads and the Interstates are property maintained regardless of what jurisdictions they serve.

    These roads are referred to as roads of Statewide Significance and again.. also a good reason to not “split” the state.

    It benefits every Virginia to be able to go from Roanoke to Va Beach and from Danville to Sterling on consistently designed and maintained infrastructure.

    But it would be patently unfair to take money from poorer jurisdictions to give to wealthier jurisdictions to relieve congestion of folks who make higher salaries, live in generally better homes and who mostly choose to drive solo every day at rush hour.

    It’s one thing for a guy in Lexington to pay gas taxes to improve infrastructure in his town but I don’t think you ever will convince him that he should to sending some of his gas taxes to NoVa for commuting infrastructure.

    The problem that we have is that too many people think that the state gets it’s transportation money from somewhere other then themselves.. they apparently think somehow that the “State” funds transportation out of some external fund…

    Many do not appreciate that the majority of the funding that a locality has is… fairly proportional to the amount of gas taxes that their own citizens pay.

    there really is – no money from the “state”. Every bit of it comes out of someone’s pocket.

    It’s a myth.

    and Bob.. of the 4Billion dollar VDOT budget.. very little of it is “diverted” to bike trails and the like.. down in the single digits and if you really wanted to put the issue to voters..

    most of them ESPECIALLY the ones in NoVa would take away the 1/2% sales tax that VDOT now gets (500 million annually) and give it to bike and transit.. and let VDOT solely fund roads from gas taxes.

    If you want more lanes in NoVa for commuters – the most fair approach is to let NoVa commuters pay for them.

    I really don’t care that much if they use tolls or taxes to do it as long as there is a connection between those who benefit and those who pay.

    If you think it’s politically feasible to get a 10 cents statewide gas tax increase in RoVa to buy more roads for NoVa commuters…. I dunno guy…

  44. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Bck on topic, rail and buses are cheaper than roads in a few select cases or conditions. Those conditions don’t often exist. Among them are the fact that you need to keep them full in both directions. That means that in order to make trasnit work, you need to disperse the job sites.

    Otherwise, you are full one direction and empty the other. If that’s the case your best case starting efficiency is 50%.

    It goes rapidly downhill from there.

    RH

  45. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “If you want more lanes in NoVa for commuters – the most fair approach is to let NoVa commuters pay for them.”

    You keep saying that and then say you aren’t going to get more lanes anyway: right of way is too expensive and EPA won’t allow it.

    Why have NOVA commuters pay for something they won’t get?

    RH

  46. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Many do not appreciate that the majority of the funding that a locality has is… fairly proportional to the amount of gas taxes that their own citizens pay.

    there really is – no money from the “state”. Every bit of it comes out of someone’s pocket.”

    So what’s the problem then? This is what I’ve said all along. If it’s a toll, it still comes out of someone’s pocket. It’s just a lot more expensive to get it out.

    RH

  47. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “It benefits every Virginia to be able to go from Roanoke to Va Beach and from Danville to Sterling on consistently designed and maintained infrastructure.”

    Hoo boy, you should see the non-standard abortion the put in the middle of the highway in Upperville.

    I detoured through there on my way home to see for myself. I made the mistake of asking the gas station owner what he thought.

    He gave me a 20 minute earful.

    Get this. They have two fifty-foot long raised faux cobblestone speed bump cum rumblstrip right in the middle of town. One, in front of the church.

    As a result, you can no longer have a converstion on the street for the intermiitent road farts. BBrrrraaaapppp. Every few seconds. At each end of town.

    Then, they’ve got these dinky islands in the middle of the street, so you have to zig zag through town. They have trees planted in them. There is no way that tree can survive with no more root space than it has.

    They have curbs around them. The gas station owner told me he saw a hore trailer hit one, and it threw the left whell three feet in the air. He could see the truck bumper, underneath the trailer.

    The gas station owner told me VDOT was swamped with complaints. He said someone asked VDOT who paid for this, and VDOT told him it was donations from the rich folk. That’s not true he said, but VDOT doesn’t want to claim responsibility.

    If you wanted to put an end to traffic calming forever, you could not have built a better example. And, the thing is, the idea wasn;t so bad, actually. But the execution is horrendous.

    To do it right, you would have needed a lot more room, but that would have meant moving all the historic buildings back from the street.

    I’m no designer, but this is truly awful.

    And it is far from consistent with what you expect. As a result, it is a positive hazard.

    If I was Schultz, I’d be ashamed, not bragging.

    RH

  48. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Full disclosure. I only talked to one resident.

    One vehement resident.

    He gave a whole new maning to the concept of colorful speach. I wish I could repeat some of his similes and metaphors: sometimes you have to love that good ol’ down home Virginia vernacular.

    RH

  49. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “everyone has a right to drive whenever/whatever they want on roads they’ve already “paid” for.”

    Well, no, but they have the same right as anyone else to wait in line for the privilege.

    What HOT lanes do is sell that right to the highest bidder.

    RH

  50. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Yep, you sell that right to the highest bidder, and the guy whose right got bought, gets – nothing.

    RH

  51. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “citing the AZDOT report, “

    it might be true for AZDOT, and many other places that jumped on the politically correct HOV bandwagon without proper analysis.

    I still think it isn;t true for Shirley Highway, despite how it looks.

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “taxing people to pay for new lanes is social engineering also.”

    OK and tolls are taxes. We agree we are talking about social engineering. Now lets do the most good with the least damage and the most equality.

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “in generally better homes and who mostly choose to drive solo every day at rush hour.”

    Generally more expensive homes, maybe. Better is a different concept. Plenty of people around Farmville and other places drive long distances solo. Can we get past that red herring?

    Those people drive long distances under good conditions. They have excess peak capacity, paid for by others. The people who earn more, and pay more, drive under terrible conditions.

    End of story.

    Maybe it’s time to reassess the formulas.

    RH

  54. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Or send 5000 jobs to Farmville. We only have to reduce the demand in NOVA by 5% or so to fix the congestion/pollution problem permanently.

    Does anyone think NOVA would miss 5000 jobs? Is there a real reason for federal regs that say companies doing busines shave to belocated within so many miles?

    Is there any reason for the agriculture department to be in downtown Washington?

    Give me a break here folks. It’s the people in places like Farmville that are paying the bills. Shouldn’t they share the wealth? Isnt that how defense procurements work: subcontracts in every congressional district?

    RH

  55. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    If there are other folks in Va who also drive long commutes – that’s going to be even more of a reason for the to want to keep gas taxes for their own commutes.

    it goes back to the mindset that folks think that road money comes from the “state” instead of their own pockets

    Every Virginian needs to pay his fair share of what it costs to maintain state roads and to build and maintain basic connecting infrastructure.

    Beyond that each locality and especially those communities and regions with congestion due to rush hour commuting need to be responsible for dealing with that issue.

    Ray sez that communities say.. like Lexington or Buena Vista have “excess” infrastructure .. obsensibly not paid for by their own citizens.

    I would posit that they have paid for those roads – over the last 100 years or so.. and the plain fact is that they don’t have serious rush hours… but they do have needs.. that should be paid for by their own gas taxes.

    Ray presumes that these communities have been previously subsidized and I think not..

    no matter. for the most part – it is in the past… unless some smart alec is going to come up with a comprehensive accounting for the past and present an IOU… as they get tarred and feathered on their way out of town.

    we are talking about now.. and no matter how one feels about NoVa commuting, rush hours or HOV… there is no way.. politically .. that you’re gonna raise gas taxes on RoVa folks to spend in NoVa.

    it’s a non-starter…

    Anyone who thinks this idea is politically “feasible” needs their head examined… before it gets handed to them…

    That’s the basic issue in a nutshell that the GA and Gov Kaine are dealing with.

  56. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Every Virginian needs to pay his fair share of what it costs to maintain state roads and to build and maintain basic connecting infrastructure.”

    And that is exactly what has NOT happened. For decades. For many places the basic connecting infrastructure is more than ample. And those that enoy it are NOT the ones that paid for it.

    Now they have a big IOU. Too bad. Virginians ought to stand up to their obligations and their debts.

    BUT

    I think your argument about having paid for infrastructure for the past hundred years or so is interesting. It is the same argument I put forward previously, and you put down previously about landowners who are suddenly restricted: have they paid for infrastructure for a few hundred years, or not?

    I haven’t presumed that they have been previously subsidized or not. I merely borrowed EMRs argument in that regard, to make a point.

    Some smart alec ought to do a comprehensive accounting and come up with an IOU. If it is a NOVA IOU, so be it.

    Right now, we just don’t know, and we aren’t even willing to find out. We aren’t even to the point of setting ground rules as to HOW to find out.

    No matter? No matter? How do you get to “Every Virginian needs to pay his fair share” if we have no way of knowing what that is? We don’t even have a way to agree on how to find out.

    It is too important to politics as usual to be bound by anything resembling the facts. We deliberately don’t keep accounting so that we can get what we want through the force of politics, preferably at someone else’s expense.

    Which we then call “User Pays”.

    We WANT this done politically, and the we complain about the results. We say the results are not really representative. “It’s a non starter”, we say, as a way to pre-empt any actual thought on the subject.

    AARRGH.

    Sorry, I think when there are problems, there are solutions. There isn’t enough money to fund all the solutions, so you fund the ones that are most valuable first.

    To find the solutions you need leaders. We don’t have any. We ahve PR mongers searching for the most politically acceptable spin.

    RH

  57. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Interesting HOT Lane Stats on the New Seattle HOT Lanes(excerpts):

    Traffic data Tuesday, May 6, 2008
    2-6 p.m. peak evening commute

    Tolling transactions: 342

    Percentage of toll payers in HOT lane 10 percent

    HOT lane volume: 3,579 vehicles

    General purpose lane volume north end: 15,707 vehicles

    Average GP lane travel time: 12 min.
    Average HOT lane travel time: 8 min.

    Average toll paid: $1
    Highest toll displayed: $2
    Highest toll paid: $2

    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR167/HOTLanes/Daily_HOT_summary.htm

  58. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: more lanes for NoVa

    “You keep saying that and then say you aren’t going to get more lanes anyway: right of way is too expensive and EPA won’t allow it.

    Why have NOVA commuters pay for something they won’t get? “

    No.. what I’ve said is that NoVa CAN get more lanes.. if they follow the EPA rules and they self-fund them.

    as opposed to building new unrestricted lanes with money from RoVa.

    Capiche?

    Bob.. on the other hand is suggesting:

    * – we do away with the Non-attainment rule and the EPA who is in charge of it.

    * – that we squelch the HOT lanes

    * – that we convert all existing HOV to General Purpose

    * – that we take the last available r/w on I-95/I-66 and use it for more GP lanes

    * – that we fund it all with RoVa gas taxes and/or using the money saved by not building bike lanes.

    I don’t mind thinking out of the box.. but geesh…

    I guess we call this “big” thinking.

    I’d love to see the results of a POLL that asks the above though.

  59. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Practically speaking, we are not getting any new lanes or sufficient ones, no matter what the rules or how they are funded. Therefore the idea that they should be self funded is a fundamental fraud. This isn’t user pays, it’s a new tax that will be siphoned off for other purposes, and those purposes won’t work either.

    Even if we succeed in adding a little capacity, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road. We are going to face the same problem later, with no remaining options.

    We will finally reach the understanding that what we are trying to do is fundamentally crazy. In todays world there is no reason to move a million people 25 miles twice a day, just so they can all work close together.

    We are trying to solve the wrong problem.

    EMR is correct when he says we need fewer people, using fewer resources, and traveling less distance.

    He doesn’t go into how we are going to achieve less people, or who gets to decided who is “lessened”. So for now, we have to assume we are stuck with the people we have.

    So, if you are going to have the same people using fewer resources and traveling less distance, that is incompatible with large urban areas. If you are going to have the same people using less resourcees and traveling less distance, you are going to have to put them ins smaller places, and that means – you guessed it –

    More Places.

  60. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    NoVa IS getting new lanes and ONLY the folks that want to pay for them will pay for them and those same folks can decide to stop using them if they feel that the money collected is not spent properly.

    social engineering, on the other hand, is deciding for everyone what will be provided and how much will be paid.. and you don’t have a choice.

    Personally, I’d rather have the choice .. AND to be able to change my mind also…

  61. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I’ll say it again. We will get a few new lanes. It won’t make any difference, how they are used or how they are paid for. They are an attempt to solve the wrong problem.

    RH

  62. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    If those Seattle figures are typical they will have a hard time paying for the toll collection, let alone the road.

    RH

  63. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    …”We will get a few new lanes”

    no.. “we” don’t.

    only the folks who agree to pay get the new lanes…

    instead of forcing everyone to accede to a command&control dictate…

    people that don’t want to pay are entirely free to continue whatever suits them… AND they are not forced to pay for anyone else.

  64. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: toll “profits”

    I was thinking the same thing…

    300 paying customers out of 3000 vehicles (2700 were carpools?)

    and of the 300.. the max toll was $2?

    but they DID kick off the solo drivers when the speed dropped below 45mpg…

    … it’s a good thing they fining violators $140.. to pay for the troopers…

    Since the DOT is operating the road (I believe) … no worries about profits.. they’ll just use gas tax revenues from the cars in the general purpose lanes to make up any shortfalls… right?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “AND they are not forced to pay for anyone else.”

    Of course they are. That’s part of the fraud.

    Anyway, the plan I offered is not a command and control plan. It is more like a cap and trade. You can pay to pollute more, or you can get paid to pollute less.

    Just becasue you claim your plan is free market and the other guys plan is command and control doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t bolster your argument to name something it clearly isn’t. It is not a free market unless supply can expand. The mere ability to refuse a deal offered by the monopolist doesn’t make it so.

    RH

  66. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Anyway, I went over this before. If “WE” are the ones promoting more environmental regulations then “WE” are enforcing a command and control situation on ourselves.

    But if the situation is as Bob described; an environmental oligarchy enforced by an environmentally powerful elite, well, then it’s a command and control situation, whether you think it is “voluntary” HOT lanes or something else.

    ———————————-

    “but they DID kick off the solo drivers when the speed dropped below 45mpg…”

    And you don’t think they will kick off the carpool drivers when the profits drop below 45%? (This is state run, soo it doesn’t matter so much, but you can see where this is going.)

    RH

  67. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    two paths:

    1. voluntary pay per user per trip

    2. toll everyone and give that money to others

    which one is command&control?

    both paths are the same monopoly

    The 3rd option is no new lanes at all.

    the new lanes are made possible by the folks voluntarily willing to pay for them – not force to pay for them as you advocate.

  68. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: HOT lanes in Seattle

    It’s a 3 year pilot.. the fall back is back to the original HOV and the Wash Area will benefit from 3 years of operational experience.

  69. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “voluntary pay per user per trip

    2. toll everyone and give that money to others”

    It’s a false dichotomy, Larry.
    Give it up.

    1) There is only so much lane capacity.

    2) Voluntary pay per user ignmores the congestion tax.

    3) The third otion isn’t real: there are not going to be any new lanes paid for solely by user fees.

    4) If it is real, User fees are not the only option to pay for the new lanes. And the other options are alt least honest.

    If you can’t make a better argument than that, this isn’t fun any more.

    RH

  70. anonymous Avatar
    anonymous

    If anyone is still interested in rail versus road analysis, Jack Mallinckrodt has the data. The data includes road, light rail, heavy rail and commuter rail, and bus. The bus data doesn’t have bus rapid transit data separated from general bus. The bus numbers on operating expenses look bad, but keep in mind that those numbers include municipal bus services that run buses in low density, low capacity corridors that exist to help lower income and non-drivers get around. A bus rapid transit system in a high capacity, high density corridor would have higher farebox recovery. It is not surprising that the Arizona study showed BRT to be superior to rail transit.

    http://urbantransport.org/costcomp.pdf

    http://urbantransport.org

    Randal O’toole has info on the fairly awful performance of light rail in the US.

    http://www.americandreamcoalition.org/1-2004.pdf

    If anyone thinks that the Washington DC region doesn’t spend enough money on transit, perhaps they should check the numbers from the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

    http://www.mwcog.org/clrp/elements/financial.asp

    http://www.mwcog.org/clrp/elements/PDFs/financial_YOE_tables_Jan08.pdf

    http://www.mwcog.org/clrp/resources/Final_2006_Financial_Analsyis_Rpt.pdf

  71. This would be funny if these weren’t the same clowns about to screw up 95/395/495. From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

    Adding an extra dollar to peak-hour commutes across the Golden Gate Bridge is supposed to make the trip faster by discouraging people from crossing at the busiest times.

    So bridge officials were a little befuddled when, in the days leading up to hatching the new plan, federal transportation wonks weighed in – strongly suggesting that the new toll be $6.50 all day long.

    Bridge authorities explained that A) it was the feds’ own idea to charge more at peak times and B) a $6.50 toll would be self-defeating, because toll takers would have to make change, which in turn would lead to even bigger backups.

    The feds’ response: How about a $7 toll – but give everyone a coupon for $1 off on their next trip? That way it would still come out to $6.50.

    And you wonder why things are so screwed up in Washington.

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