L.A. officially has the worst traffic in the country, with drivers spending an average of 81 hours a year sitting in their cars stalled on our freeways and roads. The only way that we can reduce this is by improving efficiencies and figuring out how to remove drivers from the road.
I want L.A. to be one of the first cities in the US to push towards embracing and adopting automated car technology and modifying our infrastructure to support it. By all accounts self-driving cars will reduce congestion because they are safer (human error accounts for 90% of all traffic accidents) and can travel faster. With less space needed between cars, “highway lanes can be narrower because vehicles won’t need as much margin for error.”
In the slightly more distant future, we will move away from private ownership of cars altogether and instead rely on commercial fleets of automated cars to service multiple people at one time. When this happens we will be able to greatly reduce the city space used for parking lots and garages, space which can be given over to helping solve our housing issues.
But it’s not enough to rely on more efficient technologies, we also have to figure out ways to incentivize drivers to remove their vehicles from the roads. This means creating public transportation that is more appealing to drivers than their own cars. The easiest way to incentivize drivers is to save them time.
Our current public transportation system is quite limited, though it’s getting better with additions like the Metro’s Expo line from DTLA to Santa Monica. But as good as the Expo line is it still often takes longer to take this train than to drive to your destination.
But what if there was an option that took you half the time without traffic and a quarter of the time during peak travel hours? Technologies like the Hyperloop could make this a possibility in the very near future. The Hyperloop can build routes on top of existing infrastructure that could shuttle people between major travel hubs i.e. Burbank Airport to LAX (in roughly 8 minutes) and could build the infrastructure required to do this in a fraction of the time (roughly 4 years) it takes to build equivalent public transportation systems with our current methods.
Another program to reduce traffic is a voluntary program with tax incentives to persuade major employers to stagger work start and finish times during the week thus reducing the typical 9 to 5 rush hours back-ups.