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Old 03-09-2011, 06:41 AM
 
4,690 posts, read 1,744,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
It will also likely be a good idea to introduce congestion pricing on the relevant road route.
Now there's a radical idea: a congestion charge on congestion.

And if we wanted to get really way far-out, we could even dedicate the revenue to transit. Oh wait, this is too intense - I'm giving myself a panic attack.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
25,852 posts, read 44,116,022 times
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It makes perfect sense to have a "sin tax" with the revenues reaped going to pay for ways to fix the "sin". In DC there was much hemming and hawing when the city introduced a $0.05 surcharge for each plastic bag you consumed with the revenues going to help clean up the Anacostia River, which was plagued by litter (mostly plastic bags, ironically). People said they'd start commuting/driving into NoVA or Maryland to do their grocery shopping (showcasing their blithering idiocy of the lower-class people in DC in spending a few dollars in subway fare or dealing with wasting gas and sitting in traffic to get to a suburban grocery store to save only $0.50, at most, if you actually used 10 plastic bags with a grocery order).

I actually wish we had a $0.05 surcharge for plastic bags here. I have reusable nylon shopping bags that work just as well (even better, actually). The proceeds could be used to pay prisoners to clean up this city's horrible litter epidemic (the piles of cigarette butts are especially unsightly).
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:47 AM
 
4,690 posts, read 1,744,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
Just look at any European city

Now see, here you go again. A perfectly good idea, and you have to spoil it. Everyone knows those Yuropeens are godless commie shirtlifters who have never seen a moose and if they ever did would probably not even want to shoot it. So if that's what they do over there, no red-stated er -blooded American could do the same and look his God in the eye ever again.

Next plan: welfare-queen rickshaws.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
2,025 posts, read 2,398,931 times
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As mentioned here in many posts, we have the highways we have and that's it for our lifetime. Time to look at alternatives to cars clogging highways - beef up transit and a more dense city and inner ring so that people don't have to drive 10 or 20 or 30 miles and spend thousands on gasoline every year.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:24 AM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
4,162 posts, read 2,696,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeo View Post
As mentioned here in many posts, we have the highways we have and that's it for our lifetime. Time to look at alternatives to cars clogging highways - beef up transit and a more dense city and inner ring so that people don't have to drive 10 or 20 or 30 miles and spend thousands on gasoline every year.
An effective transit system in the Pittsburgh metro is another thing we won't see in our lifetimes....
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:26 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 17,265,941 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
I'm not a civil engineer, but hopefully BrianTH, Gnutella, or h_curtis would have some lucid ideas on how to safely redo that horrible onramp/offramp situation. I firmly believe that exit in and of itself adds five minutes to the rush-hour back-ups heading out of town in the evenings.
I'm not a civil engineer either!

All I know is that stretch of parkway is one of the oldest such projects in the entire country, and the basic configuration was conceived when traffic was expected to be much lighter and slower. It is also mostly surrounded by heavily built areas and/or severe grades. As I understand it, that in a nutshell is why nothing has been done. That doesn't mean nothing could be done, but I don't have any grand ideas myself.

Quote:
Then again I suppose slashing transit funding in the area could have an unexpected net benefit in drawing more people into the city. How? If more people are forced to drive due to the cuts, then roads in and out of town will become more congested. Those who will tire of the increased traffic may instead decide to move into town closer to work and bus routes that are still operational.
I don't think this is implausible, and I am not per se opposed to reconsidering how we serve farther out developments. I do think the river valleys are good candidates for something like commuter rail, but maybe long bus routes everywhere are not the best of ideas.

My concern, though, is the political feedback loop. Politicians who don't give a flying fig about the long-term welfare of the Pittsburgh Metro are trying to cut funding for PAT, and then get the people who are adversely affected by those cuts to blame PAT for the resulting problems, which they will then use as an excuse to cut PAT's funding further. And by cutting PAT, they will have also reduced the number of direct beneficiaries of PAT, perhaps further reducing the political support for PAT. If they have their way, they will keep doing this until PAT is entirely gone, and there will be no options left no matter where you live.

I don't actually think this will happen--the Metro couldn't survive the process, and eventually I think people will start getting the point and defending PAT whether or not they ride PAT themselves. I also think these tactics will eventually start affecting other large metros in PA, and trigger a similar dynamic. But that is the danger, and I will only feel assured it is past once the people in the large metros rally together and successfully defend their transit services at the state level.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
25,852 posts, read 44,116,022 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeo View Post
beef up transit and a more dense city and inner ring so that people don't have to drive 10 or 20 or 30 miles and spend thousands on gasoline every year.
People don't have to do that now. People live in Cranberry Twp., North Huntingdon Twp., Hempfield Twp., North Fayette Twp., Peters Twp., Robinson Twp., etc. and commute into the city by choice. People can rationalize it as wanting "safety", but I feel safer here on the cusp of Downtown than I did in my former suburban neighborhood back in NoVA. People can say they want "good schools", but as a product of a poorer school myself I can safely say that if an INDIVIDUAL wants to succeed, then she or he can succeed ANYWHERE, including in the Pittsburgh School District. It's not that the city schools are "bad". It's that people in these lily-white upper-middle-class suburban townships don't want their children attending school with impoverished children of color (I'm sorry, but I'll call it as it is, no matter how regrettable) so they instead voluntarily segregate themselves by socioeconomic stature. Fox Chapel Area is "good" because it is almost entirely comprised of Caucasian or Asian-American children of upper-middle-class college-educated professionals, right? That makes it "better". I hope to adopt someday, and I will gladly send my children to schools right here in the city.

What makes me angry is to look out the window of my third-floor loft and stare at two vacant historic rowhomes while I see trees coming down in the North Hills for more McMansions. I just can't justify why Allegheny County doesn't look into enacting urban growth boundaries to redirect what little coveted residential growth we have had over the past two years (and hopefully continuing into future years) into existing neighborhoods instead of continuing to sprawl (which will only worsen our congestion issues). I don't want to offend our regulars who live in the 'burbs, but please be honest and admit you only moved to Cranberry, McCandless, O'Hara, Upper St. Clair, etc. because you personally didn't want an urban lifestyle---not because the city offers a sub-par quality-of-life in comparison (which it does NOT).
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:41 AM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
4,162 posts, read 2,696,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
People can say they want "good schools", but as a product of a poorer school myself I can safely say that if an INDIVIDUAL wants to succeed, then she or he can succeed ANYWHERE, including in the Pittsburgh School District. It's not that the city schools are "bad"
I too am successful with my Pittsburgh public school education, but I'm not going to say city schools aren't bad because they are. In high school I got into fist fights, people were slanging drugs, there were bomb threats, and people brought guns to school. On my first day my teacher told me, "if you plan on getting into any fights I'm not going to break them up. Last time I did I got my ribs broken". 2 years after I graduated a kid was shot outside the school with an AK-47.

I'm pretty sure if most parents had a choice they wouldn't send their kid to my high school or many others like it in the city. So if people are moving outside the city for good schools and commuting in, I can't say that I blame them.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:44 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 17,265,941 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditchdigger View Post
So congestion is just some sort of equilibrium state in the eqation between development of outlying areas, and the capacity to get to and from there?
Yep, pretty much.

A free, uncongested highway can provide a pretty nice way to get around, so people tend to put developments right next to their access points. This process will continue until something makes using the highway not such a great proposition. If the highway remains free, the only such variable is congestion: congestion will rise to the point that using the highway is no longer such a great deal, and developments start shifting elsewhere.

In general this is sometimes called "queue rationing". If a good or service is scarce and valuable you need some way of determining who will get to use it. The typical way that is done is through price: the people willing to pay the most get to use it. If you fix the price at zero (or some other artificially low amount), an alternative means of rationing must arise. A typical alternative means is "queues", or as we say in the Colonies, "lines". Basically, you are rationing through the mechanism of who is willing to spend the most of their time waiting. A classic example of this is "Soviet bread lines", which is a general term for basic goods provided at artificially low prices in socialist countries that led to long waiting lines.

Congestion is therefore often just the manifestation of queue-rationing on a road. And it often happens precisely because you aren't using price as a way of rationing.

The only way around this is to make the good or service in question so abundant that it is no longer scarce. The problem is that in urban areas in particular, it starts getting really, really expensive to make highways arbitrarily abundant, basically because you need to be very picky about location, and because land values are getting very high as the area is being built up (and note that highways can destroy land value in urban areas not just by directly occupying space, but also by reducing the value of the land around them as well). So, to create the necessary abundance you need to switch to providing capacity in less land-intensive ways, which is what things like commuter rail and busways can do.

But ultimately, you may just need to introduce pricing so that you are no longer relying on queue-rationing. That can happen pretty easily with transit, because typically it is already priced and it isn't too hard to introduce congestion pricing. With free highways, though, you tend to meet a LOT of resistance if you try to introduce congestion pricing. In other words, politically and psychologically, the barrier is much higher going from free to something, as opposed to from something to a little more.

Last edited by BrianTH; 03-09-2011 at 07:56 AM..
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:51 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 17,265,941 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua Teen Carl View Post
An effective transit system in the Pittsburgh metro is another thing we won't see in our lifetimes....
It could be a lot worse. Around 50% of the people traveling to Downtown use transit, a lot of them using the T or one of the Busways. Imagine what the roads would look like without that.

But anyway, I'm an optimist on these issues in the long run. I think in the upcoming decades the politics of transportation are going to shift decisively in favor of making rational investment in public transit. Anti-city sentiment is declining for a host of reasons, and in general not just congestion but fuel prices and other factors are making the status quo approach intolerable. And as more people start using transit for at least some trips, the constituency will quickly build (this is what has happened in the countries whose names I dare not speak).

But that is the long run. For a while yet, this is going to be a real battle.
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