Yesterday's Energy Solution goes a long way towards solving transportation problems by providing a good source for transportation's energy requirements. But congestion is another dimension of transportation's problems.
The skies are getting full. The highways around major cities are jammed messes many hours of the day. Going in and out of major airports now takes a half hour or longer, and adding security delays, one can easily waste two hours or more on the ground waiting, walking, etc.
Truck traffic on major intercity highways can be extremely dense. Delivery trucks in major cities can fill the roads at permitted times of the day.
Exurbia - the sprawl - around major cities causes more delays and travel as major and minor shopping areas are scattered everywhere, making little chance for trip management. The linear connections (point to point trips) in a growing urban area grows at least quadratically or more, causing more travel time to balloon. Travel time is a waste.
Have you ever heard the comment, that "one would have to drive halfway across the county to find something"? I grew up in a mostly rural county in Ohio - a very typical county - that was 30 miles across the wider dimension. Halfway across is 15 miles. Yet that's how far people living in Exurbia have to travel often simply to get some bread or gasoline or post a letter or go to a bank.
The whole system of urban sprawl and our transportation system is reaching a brick wall of waste from inefficiency, travel costs and congestion. We need a national policy in transportation and communication to relieve the pressure. Yes, communication, too, since simple electronic, Internet communication can eliminate some travel.
The solution to the short term problem of congestion must be consistent with the long term Energy Solution provided yesterday, we we are simply digging a deeper hole.
The solution is, of course a combination of several methods.
I. Reserve air travel for longer trips when ground travel time would be too long.
II. Move more heavy truck traffic to trains. Require freight train systems to adapt to multi-modal systems to allow more smaller truck operators to access trains for long haul freight. If necessary, fund station improvements to make access easier and more timely. Require major train corporations to improve service and make more timely deliveries and provide more access to rail cars.
III. Use powers of eminent domain to assist train systems to become more efficient. Override environmental objections by sending them to national arbitration boards and get that mess out of the courts.
IV. Fund national access to fiber optic Internet service: anywhere connected to a US or State highway or even a county road gets access either by hard wire or shorter range Wi-Fi or Wi-Max.
V. Require cell phone companies owning digital spectrum to provide services withing ten years withing a few miles of such places as listed in item IV. No more use of public airwaves for limited private systems. Make providing a national system a condition of the licenses. Item IV and this item V will help unify the nation as did the rural electrification program of the FDR years. Use existing road or rail rights of way to build the system.
VI. Create regional passenger rail networks in logical regions with enough major cities. Piggyback on the existing rail network and if necessary, use eminent domain to expand it logically, along existing rights of way. If you lay a nation like Germany, England or France onto a map of the US, you will immediately see this will work and remove a huge amount of demand from the highways and airports. Rail works. Europe proves it. China is proving it. Just build the system out by expanding the existing system and OVERRIDE environmental objections by logical arbitration boards.
VII. Fund all this by sale of Federal and State transportation long term bonds. Rates are cheap. This spending - on rail and Internet and cell systems - is a TRUE investment in America, on investments that will pay off hugely. But it need Federal and State powers to override all those petty local and environmental objections. Solve those problems with community boards that are both empowered and required to make decisions in reasonable times.
VIII. Stop urban sprawl. Communities need to grow internally, providing nearby shopping areas in concentrated places like ... Main Street. Then people will be able to shop and obtain entertainment and service with those cheap, short range electric vehicles that I wrote about yesterday.
IX. Start electrifying the rail systems: at first the system will be multi-fuel. Over the next 40-80 years, those trains will need to be run by electricity [See yesterday's post on the Energy Solution]. We know that works - it already exists in the Boston-NYC-Washington Corridor.
X. Rural areas around major cities should be agriculture and recreation zones; large and small farms growing fresh fruits and vegetable with organic technology will supply the people in the major cities. Buying co-ops could provide a secure market for these products. Why are these products grown in California or Mexico and expensively shipped to NYC or Chicago or Boston. That's nuts.
XI. With a better transportation and communication system, small town & small city economics improves. Factories there will have the public systems of support by highways, rail, Internet and cell services. Main Streets and nearby shopping areas work better for the nation than regional Wal-Marts. Those places are so dependent on cheap oil and gasoline that is going away in a few generations. Stop them. Put resources towards concentrating people (voluntarily) in central cities and small town and cities, and improving connections between them End sprawl now!
XII. Stop building new highways except for short connections between existing highways and between nearby cities where only a few miles of road improvements would improve the transportation grid.
My recent trip to Atlanta brought to my eyes how dependent and fragile the current sprawling urban cities are in America. Without cheap gasoline, they could collapse economically. The European rail system DO work. The rail systems around NYC do work. Millions of people use them daily. I've used them. Rail communities move thousands of people safely and quickly along dedicated corridors. Rail is superior for moving people among nearby major cities. I do it - it works and is better.
Anyone looking at a map of the MidWest can see that a regional passenger rail & piggyback truck network connecting Chicago-Detroit-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Columbus and Indianapolis makes sense. That area is smaller the Germany. All we have to do is COPY the GERMANS and do it, overriding the greenie nuts. Similar regional systems are obvious in Texas, the core South from New Orleans to Miami to Atlanta, California (San Diego to LA to SF to Sacramento), the Mississippi areas of Missouri, Kansas and the southern east cost. The build out will be along existing rail lines and stations. We fund it with long term bonds. [More on this in future posts.]
I could write more, but the general parts of this plan would solve our national transposition problems and provide us with the infrastructure and living areas that lead to happier lives in true communities. We can do this, provided we keep the viking hogs and greenie nuts from bollixing it up for their own agendas.
The above solution mix will solve both the short term and long term Transportation problems for America in a manner consistent with the Energy Solution provided yesterday. Those two together are real solution, not an imaginary one similar to those of the DC bloviators..
Word of the Day
"Apprehend" - verb, transitive [$10]
Apprehend means 1. understand, perceive; 2. seize, arrest; 3. anticipate with uneasiness or fear.
Sentence: Any thinking person driving around a city like Atlanta or Columbus can not apprehend that without cheap gasoline, the city's economy would collapse.