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Only a Traffic 'Expert' Could Like Congestion

August 04, 2003

Call me a fool, but rarely does a day go by when I wonder how my life might improve if I could only spend more time driving in traffic. Whereas "Traffic at a Crawl? Some Are Saying That's Good News" (July 31) correctly observed that traffic is a byproduct of economic vitality, it should also be clear that the resulting delay is the outcome of inefficiency. That inefficiency results from the confluence of three circumstances: the high cost of expanding capacity, the high degree of variability in demand by time of day and week and the absence of pricing to moderate demand. Put these together and traffic is bound to rise to the level where the only limit to congestion is travelers' willingness to endure the pain.

While it may be true that voters and politicians prefer the current mess to the alternative -- a system where transportation pricing is the foundation for both travel and investment decisions -- we should not be deluded into thinking that there is anything positive about time wasted in congestion.

Randolph Hall

La Canada Flintridge

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I recently gave up both my cars and started taking public transportation. I was shocked to read that some people consider the subway to be a waste of money. I love it. I wish I had started taking the subway earlier. The only thing that disappoints me is how little of Los Angeles we have truly connected. I can get all over the L.A. area with my monthly MTA pass, thanks to buses, and it is super-handy not to have to worry about $20 parking on Sunset Boulevard or to waste time in traffic that I could spend reading on the bus.

But I'd rather be traveling by rail. The rail system is a great start, but we need to expand it, not criticize it. My biggest gripe is that there is no rail line heading toward Santa Monica, which is probably the most-needed branch. My second-biggest gripe would probably be that these buses and rail cars are still crowded. Sometimes you can't get a seat. Those gripes noted, it will be a while before I consider driving in L.A. again. I'm enjoying the lack of commuter stress too much.

Eric Prescott

Hollywood

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The Third World mentality of these self-serving "experts" is deplorable. We keep hearing Gov. Gray Davis talk about his "progressive" agenda. Would somebody please inform him that the first step toward any progress will be when we get our citizenry to work on time? Correspondingly, if all our scientists could spend just one more hour a day in progressive research instead of sitting in regressive traffic congestion, perhaps we would very soon find cures for cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer's. It's time to fire all the traffic experts and get California on the move again.

Robert L. Rosebrock

Brentwood

*

Freedom truly is slavery: "Many workers would not earn more money -- or choose to stay longer at work -- if they spent less time in traffic, these experts say. The time devoted to driving isn't all wasted. People do business over cell phones, listen to the radio, sit alone with their thoughts and reflect on life." Curious, one might attain all of these benefits in a prison cell.

Patrick W. Love

San Francisco

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