Transportation – the Parking Industry can solve all our problems.


Transportation – the Parking Industry can solve all our problems.

I got this in the mail…Mark pointed out the irony of promoting less use of cars by the government whilst and at the same time saving the largest car company in the US from bankruptcy. What are these people thinking?

Where is the logic – You invest billions in fast trains and rapid transit, and espouse the concept of driving (pun intended) people out of their cars and onto trains and the like, and at the same time you “save” jobs by promoting the sale of cars (cash for clunkers)and bucking up the US auto industry.

The article I linked to above was from the LA Times and basically compares us American dunderheads to those neat folks in Japan and Europe who use all those wonderful trains as they travel across their countries. Of course, you could put all of Japan in California and most of Europe, certainly Western Europe in the Northeastern corridor of the US but let’s not get technical.

The government (pick one, local, state, federal) is promoting a bullet train for the corridor between LA and SF. Let’s not comment on why someone who was in either place would possibly want to go to the other, but just consider the cost of building an 800 mile (I guess its 400 each way) set of train tracks (about a gazillion dollars) so a few people can take the train rather than fly. I can’t imagine that the cost would be much less than a Southwest ticket to Oakland, and should be much more.

The article says we have to kill off our love affair with the car. Fair enough. But how to do it? First – raise gas taxes. No problem, but they would also lower sales tax so as not to be unfair. Second, rapid transit has to be fast and cheap. We all know who is going to pay for that. Third we all have to live in complexes near the rail heads and travel to complexes in the central cities. Even if we don’t want to.

I’m going to make up the following, but I bet its close – 80% of the people who use the super trains in France and Japan are the elites and wealthy in those countries. 80% of those that use the subways in Paris and Tokyo are workerbees that live in one area and work in another, sort of just like Boston, New York, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, SF and everywhere in the US that has such trains.

Note, just like Central London, the “downtown” areas of the cities I just listed are relatively small. You can walk across them is a couple of hours. Now talk about Los Angeles, or Houston, or Orlando. These are cities that have very large populations spread over thousands of square miles. If you live in Santa Monica and work in Pasadena, about 20 miles away, you can take two and a half hours using public transportation (bus and train) or 45 minutes using your car. How is rapid transit going to fix that? Our government will tell us to move or get a job closer to home .

Correspondent Mark wants to know what side the parking industry should take. Should we support all this nonsense about high speed rail, light rail, and the like, or should we support cars, cars, cars. The government is schitzo on the subject, propping up GM and Chrysler and building trains at the same time.

What do I think? Raise the price of parking. Motivate people to rideshare and car pool. If you could get 40% of the people to rideshare or car pool on any given day we would have no traffic jams, greatly reduced pollution, much less frustration, and think about it, it would cost nothing. No infrastructure, no trains, nothing. We already have more than enough roads to handle the traffic. All would be right with the world.

All that could be “fixed” by raising the price of parking and motivating drivers to double or triple up and share the cost. In the mean time, our industry would thrive, and would become an even more integral part of the transportation milieu,


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

5 Responses

  1. I agree on the car pooling. Instead of spending billions of $’s on capital
    projects for mass transit why not invest a minute fraction of that into
    promoting car and van pools? It’s potentially a much more effective means
    of reducing congestion, requires no capital invetsment in new
    infrastructure, would have an immediate impact on air quality and would also
    have an immediate impact on the participants wallets (commuters and
    employers). The money we would not be investing in more questionable
    transit projects could instead be diverted to education or other areas where
    it could be used to create more jobs. Car and Van pools have the potential
    to cut our peak time congestion by as much as 50% for a capital investment
    of exactly $0. Car and Van pools would reduce the impact on our existing
    roads and infrastructure and would in turn reduce the ongoing costs
    associated with their upkeep. By getting more people into fewer cars we
    would reduce the number of traffic related accidents and the associated
    costs. We would also eliminate the political battles over who gets what,
    with the car and van pool concept everybody gets an equal benefit.
    It just seems so simple and obvious. Am I missing something?

  2. How long has car pooling been around as a solution? Since the 60’s? Now it is really an idea from last century. Car pooling is more similar to taking transit than having your own vehicle, you will be picked up at a certain time in a certain location and vice-versa on the return trip. This is why it never has really caught on. Add the paranoia of having to deal with strangers…… The one advantage over transit may be that you will be dropped off at home or nearer to work.
    Cars must be considered part of the transit for a major city rather than the enemy of transit. My question is – Is it still sensible to have all the vehicles rush into a downtown core from the suburbs when you can move offices to the suburbs? Trains and subways “deadhead” back to the origin during rush hours, moving the office infrastructure out further would allow a true two way flow of traffic – less congestion.
    The days of having commerce in a specific area because communication between commercial enterprises used to be mainly face to face, then the telephone, then fax let the growth of commerce in the core become larger but now with instantaneous global communication even for the most complex or sensitive documents,video conferencing with ease, commercial entities do not need to be in a cities core. This movement of traffic to the four corners of a metropolis rather than one central point could perhaps alleviate the problems of congestion.
    Think of traffic moving equally in all directions in the morning, transit having riders for both ways of their trips and the increased ridership in transit because even now, everyone does not work “downtown” but transit is geared to moving people at certain times in that singular direction. We should study where to put workplaces to utilize our infrastructure equally rather than the continued growth of infrastructure to one central point.
    Just a thought.

  3. The probelm isn’t that the jobs are centrally located and we are trying to get the people there from all over, in fact the problem is exactly the opposite. There are very few metro areas where the majority of jobs are still located in the central core, most areas now have multiple “centers” of employment spread all over. The same holds true with residential, the trend over the past few decades has been for people to move to a location based on amenities (schools, recreation, shopping, etc) versus being located close to work. What you now have is a situation where instead of having to address the issue of people traveling from point A to point B, they are coming from points A thru Z and need to get to points A thru Z.
    We did a small study of this in Jacksonville a few years ago (’05) where we got the home zip codes of 1100 workers in Downtown from various employers and then charted their paths from home to work. We had expected to see one, or possibly two areas of town where the majority of workers came from but instead saw a pattern wherein the employees were traveling to downtown by nearly identical numbers from almost every point of the compass. We expanded the pool by another 600 from several other employers and saw almost no change in the pattern.
    We have also found that the vast majority of vehicular trips coming into downtown are simply “pass thrus” on their way to another employment destination, and once again those destinations cover all points of the compass.
    The traffic is already going everywhere from everywhere, mass transit cannot and will not resolve that.

  4. my dear americans, the model of an north american city, the vast areas covered by single family houses, the ghost office down town places, it is all a product of a car ridden society. Because of the car you could afford to built this fucked up urbanizm where everybody is forced to commute great distances. the low construction density does not allow for public transport to be effective, hence you are stuck up with the cars. your society runs on cars, hence the imminent interest of your government in oil producing countries. well the oil is running out and your government is trying desperately to shift your transport habits away from the car. well it will never work in your spread out low density cities. anything else your hear is a lie.

  5. Sorry, Ian — its not that simple – in fact our urban centers are reinventing themselves – people are moving back into the cities by the tens of thousands – LA, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta are all seeing rapid downtown growth. The lure of the single family house is not as great as it was a few decades ago. All the demographics show that downtowns (yes even LA) are booming. Your view is based on fantasy, not facts. (By the way, we are not running out of oil, we have more available now than any time in history -0- we are getting better finding it.) I think you will find that the population, left to its own devices, will find solutions to the density problem in spite of what the government does to try to “solve” the problems.

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