Travel, Time and Transport

I traded links with Mike Dahmus aka M1EK, over on twitter the other day; I’d just come across this Inrix Nation Traffic Scorecard.

Haven driven a lot in the past 6-months, and with my travelling backrgound, I was surprised to see that Austin appeared to be 23rd worst city in the US. I sent the link to Mike as I knew he’d have something to say. When I looked at the page, and you can sort by many columns and get different views, I was interested in when, where and other aspects of the data. It’s long been my view that Austins traffic wasn’t that bad, and that given the proximity of I35, the 45 Tollroad, and Mopac to downtown, actually it was pretty simple to get in and out.

Of course that isn’t true if you are one of those people who sit daily in the massive traffic jams to get from north to downtown, and to be honest, I don’t see the traffic trying to get from the south into downtown, just the downtown end of it.

What Mike pointed out was that the situation was actually much worse than I’d envisaged, especially looking at the Inrix study. While they give you the ability to sort by column, if you could sort on multiple columns, Austin would come out near the top if you took population, average delay and distance traveled. Mike’s tweet was “We’re even worse than we come off there; these studies unfairly penalize cities where large % of commuters don’t drive (i.e. NY).”

I’ve just been reading Mikes blog, and he makes some important points there on the recent Capital Metro’s Service 2020 plan, but also on the Rapid Bus proposal changes. Seems like there is a lot more work to do yet.

2 Comments so far

  1. m1ek on February 26th, 2010 @ 11:04 am

    Thanks Mark. I actually have spent quite a bit more time writing about the commuter rail line (Red Line) over the years; here’s a link to the category archive (newest at top):

  2. odoublegood on February 27th, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    The proposed “service plan” intends to totally delete some routes, including the one serving an original streetcar suburb of Austin, Travis Heights. If Travis Heights and Fairview Park and Swisher Addition were dense enough to be served by public transportation from their very inception, why is service being eliminated now? Parts of South Austin that are west of Congress will suffer hardships as well under the proposed plan. Capital Metro will not answer questions about when ridership censuses were taken (time of day, dates, etc.) or why only boardings (outgoing) and not returns appear to have been counted. The inner parts of neighborhoods have had services cut, routes changed and even truncated, stops changed, and route-pairings altered over a period of years, showing every sign of attempts by Capital Metro to discourage, not encourage, ridership. It may be possible for the able-bodied and unencumbered to walk out to one the of the major thoroughfares to catch buses to work in the morning, but by the time buses are that close to downtown and UT, they are often full, in which case, those haplessly waiting will be late or forced to walk all the way. Returns to the interiors of neighborhoods are important; people will wait after work for the neighborhood bus even though it means returning home later in order not to be forced to walk on major, noisy, unshaded thoroughfares and in many cases uphill for extended distances from South Congress, Riverside, South First, South Lamar, Manchaca, etc., in order to get to the front door from the “big” streets. This is most unpleasant in hot weather, and a most discouraging prospect for the elderly, disables, or people with strollers. Caital Metro’s planners and employees generally don’t care. Members of the city council don’t care. The Capital Metro board does not care. The county commissioners do not care. Those of us who chose where we live precisely because so long as there has been any public transportation at all there has been public transportion serving particular neighborhoods and a resident could be thought to be entitled to expect that there always would be.

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