Comprehensive Study on Traffic Congestion in Urban Los Angeles Suggests Ways to Improve Traffic
Oct 2, 2008
Short-Term Policy Options for Improving Transportation
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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.
A Primer on Congestion
Characterizing Congestion in Los Angeles
Diagnosing Congestion in Los Angeles
Short-Term Congestion-Reduction Options
Short-Term Congestion-Reduction Recommendations
Signal Timing and Control
High-Occupancy Vehicle-Lane Strategies
Officers at Intersections
Rush-Hour Construction Bans
Flexible Work Hours
Mandatory Transportation Demand Management Programs
High-Occupancy Toll Lanes
Cordon Congestion Tolls
Variable Curb-Parking Rates
Local Fuel Taxes
Variable Transit Fares
Deep-Discount Transit Passes
Bus Rapid Transit
Institutional Roles in Transportation Planning and Policy
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).
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