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Old 09-18-2007, 07:57 PM   #1
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Traffic congestion costs us bigtime...

Drivers, start your engines - then sit and wait
Associated Press

Last update: September 18, 2007 – 9:23 PM

WASHINGTON - Drivers waste nearly an entire work week each year sitting in traffic on the way to and from their jobs, according to a national study released Tuesday.
How long? The nation's drivers languished in traffic delays for a total of 4.2 billion hours in 2005, up from 4 billion the year before, according to the Texas Traffic Institute's urban mobility report. That's about 38 hours per driver.

Waste of fuel: The study estimates that drivers wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel while sitting in traffic. Together with the lost time, traffic delays cost the nation $78.2 billion, the study estimates.

Where it's bad: The Los Angeles metro area was worst, delaying drivers an average of 72 hours a year. It was followed by Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington and Dallas.

Where it's better: The least congested metro areas were Spokane, Wash., and Brownsville, Texas, where drivers were delayed an average of eight hours a year.

Where we rank: The Twin Cities, with 43 hours of delay per rush-hour traveler, came in at 23rd in the rankings. Last year we ranked 26th with 40 hours per year.

What it cost us: The annual cost of congestion to Twin Cities commuters topped a billion dollars in 2005, according to the study. High as that figure might be, it was based in part on a now-unheard-of fuel cost of $2.19 per gallon. The amount of "excess fuel" burned that year because of congestion in the metro area was nearly 42 million gallons.

In Washington: At a news conference with congressional and transportation leaders to discuss the report, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., defended his call for a 5-cent increase to the gas tax. But U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., ranking member of the House transportation committee, called that idea "myopic." Because new car technologies allow cars to go farther with less gas and because more people are using alternative fuels, lawmakers should be looking at a broader plan to raise money, Mica said.

Star Tribune staff writers Nina Petersen-Perlman and Jim Foti contributed to this report.

http://www.startribune.com/484/story/1430330.html
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Anyone with more than two kids, or is dreaming of having more than two, I would urge to consider what is happening already, and keep in mind that population growth expands exponentially. If we think congestion and sprawl just got bad in the last 20 or 30 years, imagine the next 20.

And I added the color on the last sentence. The amount of people using alternate fuels is a microscopically small percentage today. The fleet FE average isn't exactly skyrocketing up either, although the miles/vehicle driven have. Yet, gummint a$$holes are already planning new ways to extract more $ from the motorist.

P.S. So some journalist reported on traffic jam idling costs. I'd like to see a study that shows how much fuel is wasted, and emissions created, by needless idling ESPECIALLY that created by autostart abuse.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:42 PM   #2
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And I added the color on the last sentence. The amount of people using alternate fuels is a microscopically small percentage today. The fleet FE average isn't exactly skyrocketing up either, although the miles/vehicle driven have. Yet, gummint a$$holes are already planning new ways to extract more $ from the motorist.
The problem here is that the tax isn't high enough... The point of this type of tax is to discourage and/or change habits such that the burden is no higher than before as a result of less consumption. If the tax was $1.50, habits would change really fast - but fast change is bad (just like increasing a minimum wage too fast). $1.50 over 5-10 years gives automakers time to meet a goal and people time to change habits (which may include living closer to work, or working closer to home). This is just from an economics POV.

As painful as it is to say/hear... Gouging has an economic purpose when done right (especially in "disaster"/ties of hardship scenarios). It ensures people take what they absolutely need which allows more people to get what they need. Rather than the first people taking too much meaning more people don't get what they need. The same basic principle applies to this form of tax.

But... "Go about your lives." Even slow change is hard for us, apparently (except personal horizontal growth, that is consistent).

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Anyone with more than two kids, or is dreaming of having more than two, I would urge to consider what is happening already, and keep in mind that population growth expands exponentially. If we think congestion and sprawl just got bad in the last 20 or 30 years, imagine the next 20.
As I said before.... If we don't ration ourselves soon enough with enough vigor, nature will take the liberty to do it for us. And that's going to be very painful (and put a greater strain than self rationing would have). People die every year in arid conditions when they drink their water supply too fast when they could have survived with taxing themselves (rationing).
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Old 09-18-2007, 09:30 PM   #3
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People also die in the desert with full water bottles. Everything in moderation, or finding the happy medium.

Back on topic though, I spend about 10 minutes a day waiting in traffic because of a poorly planned/timed/constructed intersection. Otherwise I pretty much own the entire road during my 35-40 minute commute.

Mass transit in the form of trains would eliminate much of the problem that the OP is commenting on. Problem is, the USA wasn't designed to be very efficient in how you travel about the country. Trains like we have here in Japan could never work in America, unless they developed a hub system servicing only a small number of larger population-dense areas.. and if you do that then you kind of eliminate the whole idea of trains.

I'm just waiting for the problem to fix itself -- ie, for the oil supply to run dry, or low enough that it becomes cost prohibitive to continue using it in the way that today's society does.
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Old 09-18-2007, 10:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
People also die in the desert with full water bottles. Everything in moderation, or finding the happy medium.

Back on topic though, I spend about 10 minutes a day waiting in traffic because of a poorly planned/timed/constructed intersection. Otherwise I pretty much own the entire road during my 35-40 minute commute.
Fair enough I guess I should have reiterated my "change too fast" point

Planning helps, a lot... But in some situations, the living/working arrangement is just terrible. SF is a perfect example (as it's on the list). If you just so happen to live where BART (subway) isn't an effective means of transportation, you're stuck driving... Getting over the Bay Bridge just plain SUCKS!

But that gets back to what you said about design. Too much sprawl and suburban hell. I absolutely loved being able to ride my bike to the grocery store, pack everything in a soft sided cooler and pedal everything back (I still do that, it's just more work - and I'm the only one I know that does it). The only reason I didn't ride into work as I intended is because my car was broken into and I became unjustly paranoid (at least I carpooled)...

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unless they developed a hub system servicing only a small number of larger population-dense areas.. and if you do that then you kind of eliminate the whole idea of trains.
You eliminate the big ones... But smaller light rail is economical and effective in that situation. But you're talking of major change in lifestyle. From my perspective, Americans hate lifestyle change. Even when it's not an option and they're forced to...
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Old 09-18-2007, 11:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theclencher View Post
Drivers, start your engines - then sit and wait
Associated Press

Last update: September 18, 2007 ? 9:23 PM

...

Where it's bad: The Los Angeles metro area was worst, delaying drivers an average of 72 hours a year. It was followed by Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington and Dallas.

...
That's me!!!!!!!!!! I had a spectacular MPG sequence going this morning on the South 710. I found a "wide load crane on a truck" to follow, so my average freeway speed was a measly 40 MPH (didn't have to fight air friction!). But it changed lanes and since I thought it was exiting the freeway, I didn't keep following it and passed it by (it was too slow to fall back behind). Still had a good run, heading towards 60 MPG at the 105 West interchange. But, traffic slowly came to a total halt. When I saw 0 MPH and 0 MPG on my ScanGauge, I knew the run was out the window.

When things go well, I drive off-peak. My best runs are still my freeway runs.

When we have *real* rain here in LA, the freeways aren't worth driving at all.

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Old 09-19-2007, 02:10 PM   #6
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I thought traffic was a good thing. More people will walk, ride the bus, and bike if traffic (and finding parking) is bad.
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:40 AM   #7
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I thought traffic was a good thing. More people will walk, ride the bus, and bike if traffic (and finding parking) is bad.
Heh heh heh... that's funny. People won't change, they will just complain as they sit there in traffic. 99 percent won't even comprehend that there might just be another way. This suits me just fine seeing as the very few times we've had traffic jams due to accidents, we just slide over to the side roads where there is very little traffic. It only takes a few extra minutes on the side roads over the main interstate we have to travel, but saves an hour's idle and creep time when there's an accident.

Really, riding the bus or walking isn't an option, since the road we have to travel on has no walking trails, is a 10 mile one way walk just to go between towns, and there is no bus service.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:12 PM   #8
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I just put that in because I wanted to hear what people would say. I really think that people will sit in bad traffic as long as they can find a parking space easily.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:26 PM   #9
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Indeed, I find it sad how willing people are to just sit in traffic. Yesterday I went to the store and it only took 5 minutes more by bike than it normally would've in my car. That's because I can time the lights better and never have to stop, not to mention take more of the back routes.

I guess instead of forcing people to change we need to try to show people why change can be good, na.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:39 PM   #10
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I rode my bike to the store to pick up some dinner for the fam. Halfway there I saw a guy fire up his smokey old van as I passed him. Then I saw him doing a three point turn around in old smokey to get back to his favorite spot on my return trip.

Lots of folks around here is like that. Got more than a block to go? Better fire up the old car.
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