Urban Transportation Policy: A Guide and Road Map
The main transportation issues facing cities today fall into familiar categories--congestion and public transit. For congestion, there is now a far richer menu of options that are understood, technically feasible, and perhaps politically feasible. One can now contemplate offering roads of different qualities and prices. Many selected road segments are now operated by the private sector. Road pricing is routinely considered in planning exercises, and field experiments have made it more familiar to urban voters. Concerns about environmental effects of urban trucking have resulted in serious interest in tolled truck-only express highways. As for public transit, there is a need for political mechanisms to allow each type of transit to specialize where it is strongest. The spread of "bus rapid transit" has opened new possibilities for providing the advantages of rail transit at lower cost. The prospect of pricing and privatizing highway facilities could reduce the amount of subsidy needed to maintain a healthy transit system. Privately operated public transit is making a comeback in other parts of the world. The single most positive step toward better urban transportation would be to encourage the spread of road pricing. A second step, more speculative because it has not been researched, would be to use more environmentally-friendly road designs that provide needed capacity but at modest speeds, and that would not necessarily serve all vehicles.
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