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State of Transportation in Los Angeles Area

May 05, 1987

Your series about traffic congestion barely addressed what may be the only solution to the problem: free markets.

It seems that many of the traffic experts quoted in the articles have concluded that we can't build our way out of the mess. I believe that most Southern Californians of more than 5 years' tenure have resigned themselves to the same conclusion.

The problem, I think, is that the costs are only felt indirectly: those wasted 628,000 hours and 72 million gallons of gasoline are a de facto toll, but are rarely perceived that way. The one thing that would really alter behavior (in the form of employer policies, driver actions, etc.) would be a direct toll.

The technology (e.g., buried sensors and computerized accounting systems) is available to make motorists pay according to where, when, and how far they choose to drive. They could receive an itemized bill at the end of each month; failure to pay in a timely manner could be punished by attaching a "Denver boot" until the toll and a fine were paid.

Hand in hand with this measure should be (1) parking fees that reflect the true cost of the space, and (2) removal of urban transportation from government hands. The latter would result in a more flexible transportation network that could succeed where the RTD (and other transit entities) fail miserably in getting people out of their cars.

JAMES V. HALLORAN III

Redondo Beach

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