Transportation headlines, Monday, August 16

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Free Parking Comes at a Price (New York Times)

If parking was unsubsidized, would people be more likely to choose alternatives to driving? The New York Times and UCLA urban planning professor Donal Shoup think so. The idea is that legally mandated parking requirements create an artificial market where the costs of driving are not full represented. In fact, Shoup notes that in L.A. many free parking spaces are worth more than many of the cars that park in them. According to Shoup, in the United States 99% of car trips end at a free parking space – which pencils out to a subsidy of at least $127 billion. It’s often claimed that unlike public transit, private automobiles represent a free market, but Shoup proves this to be a myth.

Myths Destroying Los Angeles (CityWatch)

Speaking of myths, Los Angeles attorney Richard Lee Abrams presents his list of the myths he thinks are destroying L.A. Free parking is not one of them – but public transit is. Abrams views L.A.’s rail expansion as “19th century technology”, ignoring that fact that cars are also 19th century technology and to “go where the driver wanted” cars required a massive investment in subsidized streets, freeways and parking that certainly aided in L.A.’s growth but has not been able to keep up with it.

A Field Guide to Transit Quarrels (Human Transit)

Transit debates are common and often tread over the same tired arguments – bus vs. rail, at-grade vs. grade separated, etc. Professional transit planner and blogger Jarrett Walker share his guide to objectively understanding transit debates and addressing the issues that are often brought up. He presents a spectrum of statements from those passionate ones based purely on feelings and opinions, but no necessarily fact (e.g. “I love how streetcars look and feel!”) to those cold boring facts based on geometry and math (e.g. “In mixed traffic, many situations will trap a streetcar that do not trap a bus.”). The cold hard facts are the important stuff, but often seem to get lost due the red hot power of the “feelings” based statements. Luckily, Jarrett’s guide includes a list of  laws of transit geometry – worth referring to for those times when you find yourself in a transit debate.