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Abstract

The Los Angeles area has the most severe traffic congestion in the United States. Trends in many of the underlying causal factors suggest that congestion will continue to worsen in the coming years, absent significant policy intervention. Excessive traffic congestion detracts from quality of life, is economically wasteful and environmentally damaging, and exacerbates social-justice concerns. Finding efficient and equitable strategies for mitigating congestion will therefore serve many social goals. The authors recommend strategies for reducing congestion in Los Angeles County that could be implemented and produce significant improvements within about five years. To manage peak-hour auto travel, raise transportation revenue, improve alternative transportation options, and use existing capacity more efficiently, they recommend 10 primary strategies: improve signal control and timing; restrict curb parking on busy thoroughfares; implement paired one-way streets; promote ride-sharing, telecommuting, and flexible work schedules; develop a high-occupancy toll-lane network; vary curb-parking rates with demand, enforce the current parking cash-out law; promote deep-discount transit passes; expand bus rapid transit and bus-only lanes; and implement a regionally connected bicycle network. In addition, three recommendations may help, depending on the outcome of current events: evaluate arterial incident management, consider cordon congestion tolls, and levy local fuel taxes to raise transit revenue. Given that some of the recommendations may prove controversial, the authors also outline complementary strategies for building political consensus.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    A Primer on Congestion

  • Chapter Three

    Characterizing Congestion in Los Angeles

  • Chapter Four

    Diagnosing Congestion in Los Angeles

  • Chapter Five

    Short-Term Congestion-Reduction Options

  • Chapter Six

    Short-Term Congestion-Reduction Recommendations

  • Chapter Seven

    Consensus-Building Recommendations

  • Chapter Eight

    Final Thoughts

  • Appendix A

    Strategy-Rating Overview

  • Appendix B1

    Freeway-Ramp Metering

  • Appendix B2

    Signal Timing and Control

  • Appendix B3

    High-Occupancy Vehicle-Lane Strategies

  • Appendix B4

    Park-and-Ride Facilities

  • Appendix B5

    Officers at Intersections

  • Appendix B6

    Left-Turn Signals

  • Appendix B7

    Curb-Parking Restrictions

  • Appendix B8

    One-Way Streets

  • Appendix B9

    Rush-Hour Construction Bans

  • Appendix B10

    Incident-Management Systems

  • Appendix B11

    Ride-Sharing

  • Appendix B12

    Telecommuting

  • Appendix B13

    Flexible Work Hours

  • Appendix B14

    Car Sharing

  • Appendix B15

    Traveler-Information Systems

  • Appendix B16

    Mandatory Transportation Demand Management Programs

  • Appendix B17

    Driving Restrictions

  • Appendix B18

    High-Occupancy Toll Lanes

  • Appendix B19

    Cordon Congestion Tolls

  • Appendix B20

    Variable Curb-Parking Rates

  • Appendix B21

    Parking Cash-Out

  • Appendix B22

    Local Fuel Taxes

  • Appendix B23

    Variable Transit Fares

  • Appendix B24

    Deep-Discount Transit Passes

  • Appendix B25

    Bus Rapid Transit

  • Appendix B26

    Bus-Route Reconfiguration

  • Appendix B27

    Pedestrian Strategies

  • Appendix B28

    Bicycling Strategies

  • Appendix C

    Institutional Roles in Transportation Planning and Policy

  • Appendix D

    Theoretical Insights on Political Consensus Building

This study was sponsored by James A. Thomas, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Music Center of Los Angeles County, and the RAND Corporation and was conducted under the auspices of the Transportation, Space, and Technology (TST) Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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