According to the Star-Advertiser’s story (subscription), Dr. Flachshart said “…the commission shouldn’t count on reduced congestion even with major road improvements…” and that “added capacity will entice more freeway use by people who avoid peak congestion in ways that include driving to work at 4:30 a.m.”
In other words, the new lanes and temporarily reduced congestion would entice today’s early risers to adjust their start time and restore congestion to previous levels. “If you double-deck H-1, you simply allow people to sleep in later,” he said. "The traffic will return.”
“Traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today.” That’s a quote from his July 2010 Civil Beat interview, and he’s used virtually the exact same words before the City Council and in his many public speeches, including the Rotary Club of Honolulu.
It’s clear from his repeated use of this phrase that he believes it’s a “gotcha” accusation against rail that works in his favor. But it works only if his audiences – including the media – are unaware of what many transportation and urban planners call “the fundamental law of road congestion.”
In plain terms, congestion will be worse in the future no matter what, as Dr. Flachshart testified. Build rail or don’t build it; build more highways or don’t build them. Numerous studies add up to the came conclusion: Traffic will continue to grow along with the population, and no matter how many more highway lanes are built, congestion will get worse.
Adding those extra lanes results in increased driving by current residents and new residents who add to the traffic over time. One of the studies cited by the Toronto team concluded:“…without congestion pricing (tolls), increasing road or public transit supply is unlikely to relieve congestion….”
Another study – “Generated Traffic and Induced Travel; Implications for Transport Planning” – reached a similar conclusion:
And that says a lot.
This post has been added to our "aggregation site" under the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading.