Fix Roads? Let’s Blame an App Instead

10 May
May 10, 2018

From Reason, comes this article on how local governments are trying everything they can think of to punish drivers for using navigation apps like Waze to escape congestion. Everything except maybe adding more roads and lanes.

The cause of worsening congestion, says Moore, is pretty simple: more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road.

This description fits Los Angeles pretty well. In 2001, Los Angeles County boasted 21,085 lane miles of maintained highways. In 2016, that number had not budged much, growing to only 21,826 lane miles. In the same period of time, the number of vehicle-miles traveled by Los Angeles commuters rose by some 10 million per day.

Even though the number of vehicles is surging, road availability barely increased. Which forces drivers onto roads not designed for heavy volume in order to try and shave some minutes off of an onerous commute.

Of course, I’m sure that the answer the local government wants will be more mass transit. Except mass transit is inefficient in using taxpayer dollars, in addition to not being available on demand like a personal vehicle. Autonomous cars will help, but they’re at least five years away, and probably closer to a decade before full implementation.

So, here’s an idea – private highways. Let firms build highways that they can collect tolls on. My biggest concern would be rent-seeking, but I don’t see how that would be any worse than what we have now.

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