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13 Ways to Fix LA Traffic, the RAND Corporation Style

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The RAND Corporation came out with a study today focusing on short-term transportation policy options that could improve transportation in the city. They based their findings on what they see as the problem of Los Angeles traffic: mainly cheap and abundant parking and polycentricism (various sub-centers instead of one downtown area). And one of the more interesting reasons why traffic reductions are usually temporary seems to be the human psyche:

It doesn't take a huge reduction in traffic to make a difference: even 2 percent to 3 percent fewer cars on the roads could reduce congestion by 10 percent to 15 percent. But these reductions are usually only temporary, [Martin] Wachs [of RAND] said. When traffic conditions on a roadway are improved during the peak hours -- such as by adding new roads -- additional travelers will converge on that road from other times of travel, other routes of travel and other modes of travel. "People notice that there's less traffic on the 405 Freeway during rush hour, and say to themselves, ‘Now I can go back to driving during rush hour,' or ‘Now I don't have to leave by 2 in the afternoon,' or ‘Now I don't have to take the surface streets instead of the freeway,'" Wachs said.

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