“Justice” (Season 1, Episode 8): “A System to Cut City Traffic That Just Might Work”

Article: A System to Cut City Traffic That Just Might Work | WIRED.

I like the idea of the token system.  This is not unlike token signaling systems used on British railways on single track branches – if you have the token, you can enter the branch.  The difference here (aside from it being cars, not trains) is that there is more than one token.

At first glance, I like the idea of limiting the number of cars in the congested area, rather than just charging a fee to anyone that comes in.  The challenge, though, is that you’d need to know how many tokens is the “right” number; a non-trivial exercise.  With a congestion charge, there isn’t a hard limit to the number of vehicles because you rely on prices to discourage vehicles from entering the zone.   If you set the prices appropriately, and that has to include a rise in price as more vehicles enter the zone, then it should be OK.  If you set the price too low, however, then more and more vehicles will enter the congestion zone.  You’d have the same congestion and a bunch of revenue.

The thing I don’t like about this method is the idea that you can change the congested area on the fly.  How does this work?  If you’re in a zone that was just designated as “congested” by the controller, do you have the chance to move out of it?  How would you even know?

This is not unlike the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Justice” (Season 1, Episode 8), where there are random “punishment zones”.   Anyone caught in them is, of course, put to death (because Star Trek).  Guess where Wesley Crusher ends up?

Though the penalty is less harsh here, I don’t see the “moving zone” working out very well.  Different areas on different days?  Sure.  But no changes during the day.

Didn’t used to be this way: “Do Drivers Cover the Cost of Roads? Not By a Long Shot”

Do Drivers Cover the Cost of Roads? Not By a Long Shot | Streetsblog.net.

I thought they were counting bond proceeds as revenue but they aren’t.  That’s the only borrowing explicitly acknowledged, though.  In the case of the federal contribution, at least 25% (and more like 33%) of the “general fund” category is also borrowed money.


If the federal gas tax ($0.184/gal) had kept up with inflation, the entire left hand column would be completely dark blue, as it used to be.  Even if it was only raised 9 cents (vs 12 to match inflation), the column would be solid blue.

Exclusive lanes, please: “Seattle Wants to Change the Whole Conversation on Streetcars”

“The problem we’ve had in the first generation of North American streetcars is that, with a few exceptions, they’ve been designed with the attitude that the transit function isn’t really the point,” says Walker. “Or, as they often say, this isn’t a transit tool, its a development tool, which is a bizarre kind of insistence on the separation of silos, since in Europe great transit is a development tool because the transit is designed to actually function.” – Jarrett Walker

via Seattle Wants to Change the Whole Conversation on Streetcars – CityLab.

I’ve said it before – I worry about the OKC Streetcar for this very reason.  It’s being sold as transportation (sometimes) when it’s really about economic development.  Plus, it’s a one-way loop, showing, to me at least, that it’s really not intended to move people.

Interesting: “A second life for the state’s highway overpasses”

Who knew?

Article: A second life for the state’s highway overpasses – Metro – The Boston Globe.

When I lived there, numerous overpasses had “additional support” from large timber beams.  It was really bad.

I see that they did a maintenance blitz  — http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/HighlightedProjects/93Fast14RapidBridgeReplacementProject.aspx — and got some of the ones I used to cringe under … I mean drive under back in the day.   They have other bridge replacement projects on-going.

The article above is not about that, though.  While it’s even better when elevated roadways are taken down, like they did with the old Central Artery and are planning to do with the McGrath Highway (not to mention many others including OKC’s Crosstown), this at least makes them less ugly and/or scary.  That’s a good thing, IMHO.