The Thanos approach to fixing traffic: HWR, May 23

What if Thanos could snap his fingers and half the cars disappeared or remained in their parking places for a day? Credit: Marvel Studios.

•Channeling his inner Bruce Banner, Howard Beale and/or Thanos, LAT columnist Steve Lopez says the apocalypse is nigh and something must be done ASAP about traffic and sky high housing costs in our region. As self-appointed King of California, Lopez declares:

I will wipe out gridlock overnight by imposing a mandatory odd-even driving lockdown. If you are a noncommercial driver and your license plate ends with an even number, you can’t drive on an odd day, and vice versa. With a vanity plate, you can’t drive at all.

Stay home. Use transit. Ride a bike. Walk. Carpool.

Get caught cheating and it’s a $1,000 fine, with proceeds going to the expansion of mass transit, which, by the way, will be free for everyone until further notice.

Can’t argue that it’s a simple idea that doesn’t require tolls — although it also has a faint whiff of gas rationing during the ’70s (shocker: gas rationing was not popular). I’m wild guessing his proposal would be wildly controversial, inspire all sorts of cheating (fake license plate industry!) and perhaps be mildly effective. Let us remember that Thanos, after all, was widely viewed as the bad guy after issuing his snap and disappearing half the inhabitants of the universe.

Metro is taking a different approach and is studying congestion pricing, which uses tolls to discourage people from driving from certain times of the day. It’s not quite as sweeping or onerous as Lopez’s even/odd approach and, I think, has a better chance of providing benefits to those who drive. Congestion pricing can also be targeted to the areas with the worst congestion and raise revenues that could be used to expand transit and other mobility improvements.

Thoughts, people? If you were queen or king of California, how would you fix traffic?

•On the subject of housing and ridership, Curbed LA looks at another theory that has been floating around: many of the low-income riders who once rode Metro have left Los Angeles County because they can no longer afford to live here.

•And speaking of housing (again), LAT columnist George Skelton has a post-mortem on SB 50, the bill that would have rezoned parts of California to allow more housing near transit. His take: the bill needed to be changed in order to pass and Gov. Gavin Newsom did little to help shape the bill into something that could get enough votes.

Consumer Reports raises a number of safety concerns about the Autopilot feature in Tesla cars that allows cars to change lanes without driver intervention. Bottom line: CR found humans drive better in many circumstances and that Autopilot cut off other cars or appeared to break driving laws. Self-driving cars may certainly happen in the future — but as I’ve written before, I think it’s going to be a long road to get there.

Really nice essay in NYT by C.S. Giscombe on being a cyclist, amputee, poet, railroad employee and member of the Black middle class.

Art of Transit: 





9 replies

  1. Move out of California like I did and laugh all the way while the delusional bureaucrats promise the moon and the stars all the while taxing all of you into the oblivion…

    • Although this article is a little dated – it’s from 2018 – it does show tax burdens by state. California is rated fourth-highest and you can see the ranking by property tax, sales tax and income tax. I won’t argue about taxes here but as a non-native Californian I do feel safe arguing there are worst places to live 🙂

      Just as side note, the three least expensive states tax wise — Alaska, Wyoming and South Dakota — all happen to be cold-ish weather places. That said, the next three on the list — Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas — can veer toward the very warm. Perhaps someone else will detect other patterns that I’m missing.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Nothing new. Filipinos have been doing this in Manila, Philippines for decades now. Does not help much. Because they circumvent it by having a 2nd car for the affluent and for the less affluent they buy fake license plates.

  3. How about Metro working with the Los Angeles County Court system to do something about eliminating people from being called for jury duty so many miles from where they live or work. The court system is adding to traffic congestion with requiring jurors to serve on jury duty too far from where they live or work. Until this is done, I will take the problem seriously because this is something the LA County court system can work on to change. So far, it the last 5 decades it has not changed what so ever.

  4. If Thanos snapped and cars disappears with the people in them, then souls have left this world.

  5. Imagine a Monorail system: Washington blvd., Venice blvd., Pico, Olympic, Santa Monica, Wilshire, Sunset, Ventura, Victory, Burbank, Sherman Way, Sepulveda, Bundy, BArrington, Laurel Canyon, Coldwater, Alvarado, Western, Normandie, La Brea, La Cienaga… crisscrossing the city, almost grid-like, off the ground. If we had only started 60 years ago. By the time the rail system is complete, within the next 4 decades(!) – LA should be about 100 years behind in transportation needs.

  6. The LAT Columnist drove so he’s part of the problem. SB50 won’t solve the traffic problem. This argument makes no sense since higher population growth will continue to exacerbate traffic. Metro will continue to underserve the residents’ transportation needs. Traffic is largely coming from outside of Downtown LA and all the well paying jobs are concentrated in that area. If LA succeeds in building more housing to solve the housing problem, we can no longer blame induced traffic since population growth will encourage more people to live in LA to own cars.

    The best option is jobs and people moving away from LA to alleviate the housing and traffic crisis. This has already happened since LA and California has the most regressive housing, tax, and regulation policies. A real bad business climate. Population in California is stagnant, gentrified, and grown older. This is a mess and I’m watching in amazement at the incompetence of our leadership in Sacramento.

    • Ha. I liked the column although didn’t agree with much of it. I think technically it would be a disintegration (which, I think, precludes employment elsewhere) rather than termination.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source