Transportation Spending

Why Gridlock Continually Spreads No Matter How High Transportation Spending Reaches

References & Calculations

a. Puget Sound Regional Council, “Transportation 2040 Update Report,” May 29, 2014, p 37 Financial Summary 2010-2040

b. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “CPI Inflation Calculator,” $1 (2008) = $1.10 (2015)

c. $173.6 billion (2008$)* 1.10 (2016$/2008$) = $191 billion (2015$)

d. dollars converted to fraction of spending

e. ibid, p. 64, Travel Mode Share,

f. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) When Costs Matter chart, Local BRT "lite" vs. Light Rail: Snohomish County Swift vs. Seattle Light Rail

So Much Money for So Little

Wonder how our local transit agencies can spend 50% of our transportation dollars on projects which support less then 5% of our daily trips? Click Light Rail to see the story of how Sound Transit, our regional transit agency, is determined to make this a reality by spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars building a light rail system which will carry less than 1% of our regions daily trips. There is, however, an alternate scenario based on providing the maximum new and improved transit service for each dollar spent, which I also describe at Bus Rapid Transit .

References & Calculations

f. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) , Local BRT "lite" vs. Light Rail: Snohomish County Swift vs. Seattle Light Rail

An Alternative

In most travel corridors around Puget Sound public transit does not move a large enough share of travelers during rush hour to effect traffic congestion. There are, however, public transit options which could be implemented over a wide enough area to provide the convenience and travel times necessary to attract drivers from their car and provide an alternative. Fast and frequent public transit needs to run from where people live to where they work to make a dent in traffic. This means improving hundreds of miles of roads to keep the buses, van and carpools moving over arterial streets in addition to the freeways.

Providing an acceptable public transportation option for a significant fraction of Puget Sound residents is possible assuming we stop squandering our transportation funds on $200 to $600 million per mile Light Rail Systems and instead spend it on $2 to $20 million per mile road and bus route improvements which extend to all of our most congested roadways. The alternative is gridlock, which many of us already face, on top of sky high transportation taxes devoted to moving a tiny fraction of our express bus commuters to a train for some portion of their daily journey.

Check out the following websites for more information on cost effective transportation alternatives.

Smarter is a new name for CETA, the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives, an all-volunteer, pro-transit, non-partisan, non-profit citizens organization which has fought for cost effective public transit that can actually make a difference for more than a decade. They have a long list of well researched articles written by industry experts.

Public Interest Transportation Forum

This website also has a large number of well researched articles about local transportation issues written by experts in the field. Everything is facts and data based for you engineer types.