Critics of Los Angeles' failed efforts to relieve the nation's worst traffic congestion got help today from a Rand Corp. study that found there is only one effective way to make things better: Congestion pricing.
What a novel idea. Make the people who cause the problem pay for its solution.
Of course, that's the exact opposite of what the MTA and our local officials have put on the table with Measure R which would increase the sales tax for transportation from 1 percent to 1.5 percent to raise $40 billion to build the subway-to-the-sea and other massive freeway and mass transit projects years from now.
What the Rand researchers report is that congestion can be relieved significantly within five years by taking practical measures right now that have worked in major cities around the world
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The 13 recommendations include such ideas as raising the cost of parking in congested areas, imposing local gas taxes to fund programs.congestion pricing for driving in peak hours, region-wide bike paths, restricting parking on main thoroughfares, one-way streets, more HOV lanes.
The study points out the futility of expanding freeways because even a modest reduction in congestion and travel times only encourages more people to drive. While it didn't directly look at mass transit solutions or the MTA's wish list of project on the November ballot, it says short-term solutions must rely on putting the cost burden on drivers to pressure them into changing their behavior.
This isn't good news for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's troubled effort to raise $10 million or so to overwhelm voters with mailers and TV ads promising the deliverance from gridlock if Measure R passes.