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Old 11-15-2017, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Prescott, AZ
5,401 posts, read 2,727,833 times
Reputation: 2159

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fermie125 View Post
What an awful idea. Being taxed into oblivion is not the solution.
Now, I know where you're coming from, and I know it sounds unintuitive at first, but you're going to have to bear with me here, because it's actually the exact opposite of what you just said.

The current way we fund roads is, quite literally, by being taxed into oblivion.

This is for a number of reasons. First, for Georgia in 2014, only 39.6% of state & local road spending was covered by tolls, user fees, and user taxes. Primarily that takes the form of the Gas Tax, which is not a user fee since fuel consumption is not as strongly tied to damage of the road as is usually thought. It's more like a focused sales tax if anything. The majority of the other 69.4% comes from sales, and income taxes. So, already at the start, our roads are nearly entirely funded through taxes. Regressive ones at that.

Then, we must consider that open access to these roads, and the overwhelming priory that cars have in our transportation system, generates car-centric developments. One case study found that brand-new, car-focused developments actually generate up to 40% less taxable land value than even blighted, yet walkable density in an equivalent block area in the same part of the town. This is a double-hitter because not only does the car-centric development generate less tax revenue per unit land area, but it also generates far more vehicle traffic. It both pays less in taxes to pay for supporting infrastructure, and generates more wear on that infrastructure.

This discrepancy in taxable value is significant, and is a major reason why many towns across the country are trapped in a Growth Ponzie Scheme, unable to pay for their own infrastructure. To make up shortfalls, either taxes need to go up, or infrastructure simply decays without the ability to replace it. Even if the road is incredibly congested, it is depressingly likely that it does not generate enough combined gas, sales, and property tax revenue to pay for itself in the long run.

All of this occurs without any funding being in place for alternatives to those very roads, nor without even taking into consideration the tax-payer costs involved with pollution and environmental damages due to cars.

So, what can you do?

You can start by no longer making roads open access, or, at least not as open access as they are now. We don't give natural gas, or electricity, or food away to everyone for free, despite our taxes going to supporting those industries. So, why are roads so different?

Now, let me be clear here. I am not, at all, suggesting that we sell off all our roads to private entities. Rather, I want to do what other cities in other parts of the world have done, and implement government-run tolling to meter and control traffic in the most congested parts of the metro, while using profits generated to finance massive transit expansion within the metro as well.

This would do a number of things:
  1. It would reduce traffic. The lowest sustained traffic reduction I saw from congestion tolling was 20%. That's one out of every five cars no longer on the road, freeing up massive amounts of space, and keeping roads from getting clogged.
  2. It would incentivize the use of alternative transportation methods. By pricing the use of roads to be competitive with the price of transit, even if both are still generally subsidzed, you create a much more equal ground for competition between the two.
  3. It would improve the service quality of its own alternatives. Freer-flowing roads mean that buses are more reliable, and that both bikers and pedestrians are safer.
  4. It would fund its own alternatives. The profit from the tolling system would be available to fund large-amounts of transit expansion, bike network expansions, and pedestrian facility upgrades.
  5. All of these combined would incentivize denser development, which has far better tax return for the land than car-centric developments.


I have found, through calculation and research, that tolling all entries into the Perimeter an average of $5, while supplying reduced tolls to disabled, medicare, and senior residents, and expecting a 20% reduction in entries, would generate a profit of $32.3 Billion over 40 years. That is a massive amount of funding for new transit projects before any federal backing is brought in at all. If we, somehow, got full federal-matching, we're looking at a $64.6 Billion package of projects.

All paid for not on taxes, but actual usage fees that would reduce traffic significantly.

 
Old 11-15-2017, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Prescott, AZ
5,401 posts, read 2,727,833 times
Reputation: 2159
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
Especially when the roads have already been paid for by....wait for it....taxes.

If you think it's such a great idea, I recommend the following: Get some venture capital and construct a private expressway. Then toll it. Then use the money from those tolls to fund everything you're talking about.
The problem, as with those who say transit should pay for itself, is that I'd be competing with 60.4% tax subsidized infrastructure. I wouldn't generate much money, and roads would remain congested, wasting far more money than they generate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickeledrick View Post
Every other city with good transit and/or low congestion was able to do it without charging a toll to go into the “city”. Why on earth would the Atlanta metro have to do thisothrr than to spite 80% of the population?
Well, because the vast majority of cities aren't really doing that well in either department. Certainly no American cities. We, as a country, lag behind in needed infrastructure on nearly every front. Even U.S. transit idols are horribly behind their global peers in route miles and service quality.

I'm not suggesting to spite anyone, by the way. In the paper, and in this thread, I explicitly suggest funding a massive set of transit projects to provide as many alternatives to the tolls as possible. I suggest building out a huge commuter rail system, greatly increasing commuter bus services, building new BRT and HRT routes out to, if not past, the perimeter.

People would finally, actually, have a choice as to what they wanted to use to get around within our metro.
 
Old 11-15-2017, 05:40 PM
 
453 posts, read 654,780 times
Reputation: 312
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
Holy cow! Who knew the answer was so simple? There is was under our noses the ENTIRE TIME!

Did you here that, everyone? If you want to avoid traffic, all you have to do is EARN MORE!!!!!

Thank you so much for that insight, professor!
I said there are two options: either earn more if you want the same size home closer in with less commuting or live in a smaller home closer in. You can put in all the rail you want but eventually what will happen is homes near the new rail stations will begin to cost more and the train times take longer and you will be back to my first sentence.

It really is this simple and applies to pretty much any major city in the world..
 
Old 11-15-2017, 05:41 PM
 
1,071 posts, read 601,541 times
Reputation: 1474
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forhall View Post
The traffic getting horrible is what will force alternative solutions. Adding more lanes and roads is a bandaid. If it speeds up traffic, more people will say "Hey, driving this road is so easy let's move out to the suburbs and commute!" And before you know it, the road is a parking lot again and people are clamoring for more lanes. With this thinking, by 2050, 275 will be a 30 lane highway on either side.

The solution is to not put on a bandaid, but rather to let the traffic force people to think differently. That could mean moving closer to the city instead of commuting, as well as electing officials who promise to expand Marta.

I know many of us feel we would never use MARTA and that this is a car only city, but it doesn't have to be. Trains can be used as your only mode of transportation. Tokyo has density and population that makes Atlanta look practically rural, yet they rarely complain,of traffic because the vast majority of people just hop on trains taking them everywhere they need to go. That is what we should be striving for.
Yeah, let's not add any freeways while the population grows naturally with or without transplants. You do realize there is such a thing as natural population growth, riiiiiiight?
 
Old 11-15-2017, 05:49 PM
 
1,071 posts, read 601,541 times
Reputation: 1474
Quote:
Originally Posted by fourthwarden View Post
I mean, there was GA 400 that was finished, and continued to be expanded. That wasn't a small effort.



You can choose not to believe in induced demand all you want, that doesn't mean it isn't real. There's tons of evidence out there showing induced demand to be very real.

Hospitals are far more efficient at handling large numbers of patients than roads are. Unlike roads, you can actually build hospitals fast enough to outpace demand. Further unlike roads, hospitals have a pricing mechanism in place to meter demand to a manageable level (even if it is a really screwed-up one).

No, people don't actually get sick more if there are spare beds in a hospital, but they absolutely do drive more if there is extra road space for them to. This is a measurable reality.



I mean, this is not contrary to induced demand at all. The problem is that roads are just so incredibly inefficient at handling that supply, that you can't possibly keep up with the demand that you talk about to keep stagnation from happening.

It's one of the main reasons why induced demand is so dramatic with roadways.

The solution is not to double down on horribly inefficient, and financially unsustainable road systems when we could provide far more capacity in our limited room with transit and non-car methods of moving people.



The difference is in how that traffic affects your ability to reach places. I can reach far more locations ITP despite traffic than I could in the same amount of time in suburban traffic. Not to mention the far more effective alternative options intown that let me avoid driving in traffic all together.



I'll give you a solution to traffic: actually charge people to use the roads as we do with things like gas, water, and electricity. Set the prices to maintain free-flow, use some of the revenue to provide assistance to poorer people to mitigate the regressive nature of tolls, and use further funding to build a wide-network of alternatives.

I'm wrapping up a paper on one such tolling scenario within the metro now. At a 20% reduction in entries into the Perimeter, an average toll equal to the cost of 2 MARTA fares (inbound and outbound commutes), and with discounts for senior, medicare, and disabled people, we could generate $32.3 Billion in profits over 40 years to build an incredible network of alternatives to clogged roads.

I'm talking quadrupling GRTA's eXpress network, building out the entire GDOT commuter rail plan with dedicated passenger right of way within the core metro, building the MMPT, building out a top-end heavy rail line from Cumberland to Doraville, extending the Green Line to the perimeter on either end, building a BRT route all the way around the Perimeter, building out the entire Hashtag BRT plan, and more.

All while seeing 20% fewer vehicle entries into the core metro.
And the reason roadways are inefficient with handling their users is that most people go to work and leave work around the same time, no? Incentivized flex time would work better than a toll. Let the corporations and local governments bear the burden of an efficient road system, not their workers.
 
Old 11-15-2017, 06:03 PM
 
1,071 posts, read 601,541 times
Reputation: 1474
Look, the bottom line is that the population has doubled in the past 20 years without a SINGLE new freeway being built. Traffic was bad then (I lived in ATL during that time) and the 285 a horror story.

Focusing on a marginal increase of cars on the road due to an increase in open roadways is a back-asswards way of looking at it. It's NIMBYISM on STEROIDS. How is it good for society for people to be spending 10+ hours a week in a soul-crushing commute? How good will it be going forward with driving ability declining and cars becoming more distracting to operate, not to mention smartphone usage behind the wheel?
 
Old 11-15-2017, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Prescott, AZ
5,401 posts, read 2,727,833 times
Reputation: 2159
Quote:
Originally Posted by GSR13 View Post
And the reason roadways are inefficient with handling their users is that most people go to work and leave work around the same time, no?
No, actually, it's because of how much physical room cars take up per person compared to other methods.

Quote:
Incentivized flex time would work better than a toll.
Well, dynamic tolling, with higher prices during peak times and lower prices at other times, are an incentive to flex commute times.

Quote:
Let the corporations and local governments bear the burden of an efficient road system, not their workers.
The workers are already bearing the burden. Our roads are funded nearly entirely by regressive tax systems that benefit the wealth far more than the poor.

Tolls are regressive too, but at least they provide funding for alternatives that those workers can then use, while improving the build environment for all of us.



Quote:
Originally Posted by GSR13 View Post
Look, the bottom line is that the population has doubled in the past 20 years without a SINGLE new freeway being built. Traffic was bad then (I lived in ATL during that time) and the 285 a horror story.
Those places that have built new freeways are in the exact same mess. More roads dedicated to trying to move people in personal vehicles are not the solution for a large metro. They aren't even really a solution for any metro, really.

Quote:
Focusing on a marginal increase of cars on the road due to an increase in open roadways is a back-asswards way of looking at it.
A 20% reduction in traffic is not marginal. At all. It can mean the difference between a happily free-flowing system, and grid-lock. What's back-asswards is assuming we should keep roads completely open despite the mountain of evidence that says that that is an awful idea.

Quote:
It's NIMBYISM on STEROIDS. How is it good for society for people to be spending 10+ hours a week in a soul-crushing commute? How good will it be going forward with driving ability declining and cars becoming more distracting to operate, not to mention smartphone usage behind the wheel?
So... not wanting to build more pollution generating, financially unsustainable roads is NIMBYism, despite you yourself adding more reasons to limit the expanded use of private vehicles?

You know what helps lower commute time, reduces distracted driving? Metering road use and promoting public transit, walking, and biking.
 
Old 11-15-2017, 06:29 PM
 
7,687 posts, read 9,530,024 times
Reputation: 5657
Quote:
And the reason roadways are inefficient with handling their users is that most people go to work and leave work around the same time, no?
This is actually an extremely valid point.

The fact of the matter is, Atlanta's highways have A TON of unused capacity. It's just not when most people can see it. But anyone who has ever had a shift job knows that getting out of town at 1pm is smooth sailing. So is coming in.

So, really, if we had more companies offering flexible schedules, we could make a dent. And I don't mean work 7a-4p instead of 8a-5p, I mean let people come in at 5am and leave at 1pm. Or don't come in until 1pm and stay until 9pm. The reason I made those 8 hour shifts is because when you don't take a traditional hour-long lunch break, you get more work done and should be able to work for just 8 hours instead of 9.

The problem is, for whatever reason, our society is pretty hung up on the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Not me, I hate it...that's why I voluntarily exited it last year and went back to shift work! I'm much happier for it, and a big reason why is avoiding the hell of commuting.
 
Old 11-15-2017, 06:44 PM
 
28,110 posts, read 24,639,595 times
Reputation: 9523
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
This is actually an extremely valid point.

The fact of the matter is, Atlanta's highways have A TON of unused capacity. It's just not when most people can see it. But anyone who has ever had a shift job knows that getting out of town at 1pm is smooth sailing. So is coming in.

So, really, if we had more companies offering flexible schedules, we could make a dent. And I don't mean work 7a-4p instead of 8a-5p, I mean let people come in at 5am and leave at 1pm. Or don't come in until 1pm and stay until 9pm. The reason I made those 8 hour shifts is because when you don't take a traditional hour-long lunch break, you get more work done and should be able to work for just 8 hours instead of 9.

The problem is, for whatever reason, our society is pretty hung up on the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Not me, I hate it...that's why I voluntarily exited it last year and went back to shift work! I'm much happier for it, and a big reason why is avoiding the hell of commuting.
Agree 100%, ATLTJL.

I am reminded of the critique Donald Shoup makes in his book about parking -- the typical approach is to build parking lots that will accommodate the most massive After Thanksgiving crowds imaginable. Then the vast majority of the lot sits there unused the other 50 weeks of the year.

It's the same with roads. If we keep trying to design for rush hour, we're setting ourselves up for failure.

In my opinion we'd get far more bang for the buck by restructuring how we work and commute, as opposed to trying to build roads for rush hour.
 
Old 11-15-2017, 07:31 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
327 posts, read 238,217 times
Reputation: 276
When the Connector's jammed at 8pm on an average weeknight with no accidents, its getting worse.

I'm for massive transportation infrastructure increases. Sorry, it's way past time...
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