No traffic for the rich

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Sf Examiner file photo

The more libertarian elements of the Bay Area have been complaining for years about carpool lanes on the freeways. If everyone's stuck in traffic, and those lanes are open, why can't everyone use them -- and cut back on congestion?

Now, heeding those complaints (and moving in the fast lane toward privatization of the highway system), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is moving to allow single-occupant vehicles to use the carpool lanes -- for a price.

So the people who can afford to spent ten bucks extra a day can save time, too -- and everyone else has to sit in traffic. A couple of problems with this scenario.

For one thing, the idea that moving more cars to the carpool lane will ease congestion on the rest of the road has no basis in fact or reality. Freeways are like jails -- the more you build, the faster they fill up. Double the size of I-80 and soon it will still be as crowded. Build another Bay Bridge and it will be choked with cars in a year. That's been the entire experience of American highway construction since World War II.

An open freeway encourages people to drive. When the price of waiting in traffic gets high enough, people either use transit or ... carpool.

Which is the point of the carpool lanes. If a couple of people leave their cars at home, freeing up space for everyone else and in the process cutting down on fossil-fuel emissions, then they get to ride in a less-crowded lane. The carpool lanes are supposed to be more empty; that's the idea.

Then there's this notion of first-class and second-class highway travel.

In a perfect world, people whose time is worth more money would sacrifice cash to get where they're going, and by sitting in traffic for half an hour less would earn tha extra money back at work, and all would even out. But even the most academic-minded economists know that's not how the real world works. (Of course, in a perfect world we'd have such fast, cheap and effective transit systems that nobody would drive around the Bay Area at all.)

No: What will really happen is that wealthier people who want to go shopping or out to dinner or whatever and drive without sitting in traffic will get to do that, and poorer people will lose even more of their time to the commute, which they can't afford to do anyway, and the level of economic inequality in the Bay Area will get worse. So will the air quality.

Brilliant idea.

Comments

Nature bats last.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:43 am

100 years ago when we had belching factories and cars that spewed fumes.

Knowledge work is clean and cars now have emission controls. More power is generated cleanly, and so on.

Technology has reversed the trend, and will continue to do so. The Bay Area has very clean air compared with most of the US because of the prevailing westerly winds off the ocean.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:46 am

HC, CO, and NOx, the tailpipes emit lots and lots of CO2.

Because of anthropogenic climate change science, we now understand that it isn't so much what goes out the tailpipe that matters as what goes in the fuel inlet.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:04 am

Despite there being twice the number of vehicles.

Oh, and fuel consumption is twice as much now too. And there's hybrid's etc.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:34 am

except during economic downturns.

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mgfupus1&f=a

The carbon is being absorbed in the ocean causing acidification. That catalytic converters and other pollution controls have slowed acid rain and other problems but that does not mean "the air is cleaner."

Now instead of so much CO, NOx and HC, it's "just" the CO2 levels which rise according to how much petroleum is used

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Not even close. It factories that create the worst pollutions and we have gone post-industrial

Posted by anon on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

is making all our stuff and we get the pollution on the trade winds, AGW, the ocean.

And we get to remain in such a completely bogus and asinine "post industrial" condition *only* as long as oil is traded in U.S. dollars. Jackass.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

than it was back in the day when we made things. Industry is for Asia and their "buck a day" workers.

We have knowledge work here and we are making out like bandits. My "US minus industry" portfolio is compounding at 15% per annum, i.e. doubling every 5 years.

Gotta love America.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

it highlights the stupidity of the earlier remark about some sort of (non-existent) post-industrial world.

The SFASC also noticed an equally stupid comment in another forum about a magical world with only knowledge workers (whatever they are.)

Somehow these knowledge workers provide the essentials of life rather than just shuffling papers or developing computer applications. Try eating or wearing one of those.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Franciso Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

the food that someone like you can serve me.

Oh, and be real sycophantic otherwise your tip is going to be my spittle.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

Yay, less particulate matter in an atmosphere that is seeing temperature increases which is melting the arctic ice cap.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:59 am

and I prefer warmer weather.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

You live off of the thermohaline circulation, idiot.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:32 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

marcos, maybe you need to start peddling Soma. At least one chronic is at hand.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 3:46 pm
Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

Just to clarify: my comment was directed to someone who marcos was debating who pretended to be too busy at the time to provide a link to back up claims that they were making regarding farebox recovery rates.

marcos may indeed need to take a pill. I'm approaching the point of no return on that one.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

Sure as heck isn't me - I don't take public transit.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

"The Bay Area has very clean air compared with most of the US because of the prevailing westerly winds off the ocean."
Wrong: San Francisco has clean air, the smog over the rest of the Bay call s for several "clean air days" every year. And have you ever driven from Visalia to Los Angeles? So where is this clean air you speak of?

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:53 am

I cannot fix pollution in those places where it happens, but I sure as fuck can choose to not live there.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

Cars are a necessity for certain tasks. Viable alternatives are a necessity for eliciting changes in mass behavior. People don't want to be told that they are "doomed, Doomed, DOOMED" unless there is a way to avoid the doom.

This reminds me of a piece that I read where white people just need to get over their racism once and for all, to just do it damnit!

Or of Obama's ACA that solves the lack of access to health care by forcing people to buy health care.

Yes, cars are a death plague on the planet, you all keep saying this, but like the commies who whine about capitalism, everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it except complain.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Sure, at the margin, we can pedestrianize the odd downtown shopping street, and put in the odd bike lane here and there. But there is no voter mandate to "get rid of cars" - 99% of voters want a strong vehicular infrastructure.

So "troll" can whine away but that is all he can do, as the cars whizz past him full of people who have lives.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:48 am

99% want a strong transit infrastructure.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:56 am

Nor do they want their cars taken away from them.

Posted by anon on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

we live or work are obsolete. 100 years ago then, yes, there were towns and there was the countryside, and you could walk or ride a horse everywhere you wanted to go.

But now we have cities that are 100 miles across, like the Bay Area and LA, and there are homes and jobs everywhere in those area's. The idea of commuting into a downtown, which suits urban transit, has been minimized. Just look at the commute patterns to Silicon Valley, the effective "business downtown" of the Bay Area. Thousands commute from SF to an assortment of towns. CalTrain can work for some of them, but not most. It's too far to ride a bike. Leaving only cars.

Transit suits the old way of American living. But unless you never leave SF, you need a car.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 9:25 am

What is obsolete is the internal combustion engine (cir. 1861), the idea that an individuals needs are greater than the needs of the community, and that it is rational or necessary to propel an individual x-thousand lb. vehicle z-miles to work, play, or shop.

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Lower-compression, short-stroke engines with multi-valves, twin cam's, electronic injection, fuel injection and turbo chargers mean better performance, better mileage and less pollution all at the same time.

There are alternate fuels, hybrids, electric cars etc.

But, hey, rebuild America from scratch and then maybe we won't need cars. Until then, deal.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:36 am

No, YOU deal with crappy roadways, increasingly horrible drivers, traffic-jams, noise, pollution, insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking. I opt out, and instead spend the time and money on drugs and hookers .

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:13 am
Posted by anon on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

"Low compression" and "turbo charged" are contradictory.

The rest is just more shamelessly ignorant banality.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:54 am

Each factor help with fuel comp but a vehicle would not typically have all of them.

Can you even drive?

Posted by anon on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

Ride the "F" from Castro Street to Jefferson St my personal favorite vehicle in the history of transportation). Now try to drive there. And park.
Ride BART to SFO or Concord or Dublin or Antioch. Now try to drive there.
Ride CALTRAIN from San Francisco to San Jose. Now drive there.
Ride AMTRAK from San Francisco to Sacramento, Reno, or Los Angeles.
Now drive there. Contrast and compare, and do the math on expenses.
Rail travel never went away; and it is the future of public transportation.
Not "cars."

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

BART or CalTrain station.

Guess what? It isn't. It's another 2 miles away in the middle of nowhere.

Nor is my home right next to BART or CalTrain.

Your idea is fine if I want to visit a train station.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

It's not "my idea," it's the future of transportation. You can drive your SMART car or your HV2 to the train station, or you can get off your lazy iz-zass and walk or cycle the two miles.

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

make drop offs and pick up's of items, equipment, shopping etc.

Your idea only works if we all adopt simplistic lives.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

"My" idea is sustainable; yours is not.

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

But I would die of boredom with your life and lack of achievement.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

So do the planet a favor and die already.....

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

I'll wave as I go by you waiting at the bus stop.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

They still make those?
How retro! But NOT cool.
Like, squares-ville man!
The "in" crowd is partying on
the trains and ferries, while you
ride around alone in your horseless carriage.....

Posted by Troll Killer on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

They like the blend of money and style that it connotes.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

Glad to see you have a sense of humor.
Actually, most "chicks" these days dig
guys who care about puppies, unicorns,
and saving the planet, not necessarily in that order.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

too sensitive. They think they are weenies and rarely put out for them.

Chicks dig rich confident bastards, and always did.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

"Chicks" might dig "rich confident bastards," but the women I know dig real men who are not afraid to be "sensitive." There are only so many "rich" men to go around, and I doubt if any of them are writing inane posts on the Bay Guardian website.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

The SF Bay area has become a place for only the very rich and the very poor, the rest of us get screwed by the politicians.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 10:36 am

What you are really complaining about is that you cannot afford the prime areas like the northern parts of SF, Los Altos, Tiburon, or Orinda.

Tough.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 10:51 am

I don't mind the drivers paying for the use of the carpool lanes, what I am against it is just another way to cater to cars. I don't mind freeways or roadways, but come on aren't we suppose to be building up transit. See Highway 101 down in the South Bay, they are adding more space for car pool lanes.

Time to think Bart around the Bay, improve bus networks, build more housing near transit, think regional. Ferries around the bay. Instead of cars and cars.

Posted by Garrett on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 1:43 pm