reply to messages about transport policy and land tax
- Apologies to people also on the World Transport Focus group to whom I initially
sent a couple of messages saying much the same as the following.
I am mystified by the comment that transport planners have been prioritising
radial over orbital travel. It's certainly true for public transport, but I
think that the reverse has been the case for cars, and I argue that this has
been the cause of many of our problems.
Orbital by-passes are sold as reducing congestion by taking traffic off radial
routes. But, when one considers induced traffic (recognition of which seems to
be part of UK government policy even as it denies its applicability to each road
scheme in turn) this speeding up is more than offset by delays to radial traffic
on junctions with orbital routes, where the latter tends to get priority --
effectively an anti-bus policy given the radial bias of bus networks.
And surely high capacity by-passes are unrivalled in terms of sucking activity
away from the centre.
Environmental relief is a legitimate purpose for by-passes, but to procure it we
need to steer clear of the temptation to use them as an excuse to upgrade road
capacity. Instead, we need to rely on traffic management or other "stick"
measures to ensure that extraneous traffic does switch to the by-pass.
Incidentally, the success of orbital public transport is surely fundamentally
dependent on providing decent interchanges with radial routes while still
maintaining higher speeds than are possible with all-stops buses on congested
roads. Any rescue plan for public transport must surely include among its
priorities the provision of interchanges (which I call virtual stations) on the
faster roads, thus facilitaing the hybrid (orbital/radial) journeys which at
present form a high proportion of medium distance car travel and where public
transport does not provide a satisfactory alternative.
Finally, on the subject of public transport passengers induced by higher quality
services, first, this can't do much harm given that at almost all times of day
they will have plenty of spare seats (unlike car traffic where extra people
inevitably mean extra vehicles), and, second, many such passengers will surely
be substituting for (not necessarily shorter) car trips to other areas.