Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Atlanta Traffic and Wayne Shackelford

A response to the column by Wayne Shackelford in the AJC on 11/1/2006

Mr. Shackelford unfortunately cannot see the vehicles for which congestion is created. Neither can the rest of the people who insist on proposing grandiose transportation projects that do very little to improve the traffic that impacts most of us in the metro Atlanta area daily.

Local traffic is what ails most of us most of the time. It is local traffic that is creating the congestion that slows the through traffic. We cannot get to the stores closest to our homes in a timely manner. We cannot make a 4 mile trip to pick our children up from after school events in less than a ½ hour. Investing millions of dollars for fanciful rail systems only aids a small percentage of people some of the time, and strokes the egos of the grand designers of these proposed “solutions” to our traffic woes.

As far as the cost of trips and driving, Mr. Shackelford takes an inaccurate approach to make his rail project look more financially feasible. He should not include the fixed costs for a trip by auto unless he is willing to do the same for the rail. My fixed expenses for the auto will stay about the same whether I park my SUV and take the rail, or drive myself to my final destination. It is not feasible to not have a vehicle and therefore the fixed costs are there to stay. So the only real increase in cost to me when driving is the gas I consume to get there.

At 54 cents per passenger mile for MARTA(2002 Cost per passenger mile:Urban Transportation Fact Book), my gas guzzling SUV would still be cheaper wit gas at $7.50 a gallon to be more expensive than MARTA with one passenger, and $15 per gallon with two passengers. The paradox is that my SUV gets significantly cheaper to operate with more family members riding while public transportation costs increase significantly with more family members traveling. The result is we are building expensive transportation systems suited for individuals and not families.

No rail solution can improve the 30 minutes it takes to drive the last four miles to our home. Work to improve the ability to get around closest to where we live, and our quality of life will improve for everyone, not just those who live near a highly subsidized rail line.


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