Time to Pretend to Get Serious About Traffic

It’s “time to get serious about fixing Austin’s traffic,” says a headline at KVUE. However, no one quoted in the article is actually willing to get serious about fixing Austin’s traffic.

Instead, the article is exclusively about Project Connect, a front group that has promoted light rail for Capital Metro, Austin’s transit agency. All of the “solutions” discussed in the article involve transit, including light rail and dedicated bus lanes, both of which will actually increase congestion.

Here’s why transit won’t work to fix traffic in Austin, which by some measures is the nation’s fastest-growing urban area. Between 2010 and 2015, the Austin urban area grew by 220,000 people, or 3.0 percent per year. Transit passenger miles, meanwhile, grew by 3.5 percent per year. Sounds pretty good so far.

However, highway driving grew by 5.9 percent per year. In 2015, transit carried less than 0.8 percent of the motorized passenger miles traveled in the Austin area and the annual growth in highway travel is more than six times transit’s total passenger miles in 2015.

That means if Austin could somehow double transit ridership every two months, and if all of those new transit rides came from people who would otherwise travel by car, it still would not be enough to halt the growth in driving.

Of course, Capital Metro is far from doubling ridership every two months, or even every two decades. Despite Austin’s rapid growth, it has taken 21 years to double transit’s passenger miles (and even longer to double transit trips as trip lengths have growth with the growth of the urban area).

In short, twice nothing is still nothing and twice Capital Metro’s current transit ridership is so close to being nothing that it is irrelevant. Anyone who wants to get truly serious about fixing Austin traffic will ignore transit and look to other solutions.


11 thoughts on “Time to Pretend to Get Serious About Traffic

  1. Sandy Teal

    Most voters think rail and busses and transit reduce congestion, and that is why they vote for it. That myth needs to be destroyed and should be a priority for transit spending opponents.

  2. prk166

    Why not build a bike path next to the track, instead of stealing the track?
    ” ~ the highwayman

    The port authority owns the right of way and the track. There is nothing being stolen.

    (and even longer to double transit trips as trip lengths have growth with the growth of the urban area).

    ” ~anti-planner

    growth with the growth?

    Did you mean, “…have grown with the growth…” ?

  3. the highwayman

    Legalized theft, is still theft.

    I’m not saying don’t have streets, sidewalks or bike paths. Yet a bike path be next to a railroad too. There’s no need to steal railroads for bike paths. :$

  4. Frank

    Note that on his FB liked pages is
    Asperger’s Syndrome Awareness.

    Run his behavior here through an Asperger’s test:

    Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking. Check.

    Appear to lack empathy. Check.

    Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized. Check.

    A significant and encompassing preoccupation or obsession with one or two restricted topics, that is abnormal either in intensity, subject or focus (such as choo choo trains). Check.

    Difficulty cultivating friendships. They may not connect with their peers due to a lack of social skills. Check.

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