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Issue #17 - techniques to ease urban traffic jams

Urban traffic jams waste people’s time and increase per-mile consumption of gasoline which, in turn, aggravates global warming and adversely affects the nation’s balance of trade. This is a problem which merits a crash program funded by the federal government.

The first step is to conduct research into best practices to alleviate urban traffic. The second step is to conduct large-scale demonstrations projects to prove the effectiveness of a given approach. Finally, there would be a roll-out of techniques that have proven themselves in the demonstration projects.

There may not be a single technique but a combination of them that will eventually be chosen. Among them:


1. The PRT (personal rapid transportation) system developed by Ed Anderson is an elevated rail above city streets. Individuals can ride to their destination in computer-controlled cars.

2. The “smart-jitney” program championed by Bob Behnke allows drivers of automobiles to pick up paying passengers who want to share a ride. Special computer software matches available drivers and riders communicating by cell phone.

3. Bill Ford of the Ford Motor Company is conducting research into technologies that would tell drivers searching for parking spaces where the nearest spaces are.

4. Subway systems are practical and cost effective in large cities. Buses and taxi cabs can serve communities of every size.

5. Telecommuting and staggered work hours will reduce the need to commute to and from work during the rush hour.

6. Small electric cars will cut down on petroleum use and green-house gas emissions. More research is needed to develop an effective battery.


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