Linking Promises to Funding

Here is another guest post from Austin, Texas for TOD:LOCAL from Colin Clark.

Holding local elected officials accountable for their words and deeds can be a frustrating experience. One day they are standing up denouncing the Federal government for making the wrong investments in our future and not tackling global warming or our addiction to oil by signing the Mayor's Climate Change Agreement. The next day they announce the latest in highway funding touting new roads, less traffic, more jobs.

As we consider the collision course of peak oil and global warming, we should start look around our own communities and see if our transportation plans, policies, and construction projects are anticipating higher gas prices and a future with reduced vehicle miles traveled by automobile or stuck in the "building our way out of congestion" mindset.

With motorized transportation using 40% of US oil consumption, it's important to examine what we are doing on a local and regional level with transportation plans, funding, and construction. Are we digging ourselves deeper into the hole of oil dependency for mobility?

Adding one new mile of one lane of highway capacity creates an estimated 116,500 to 186,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 50 years. Further, expanding transportation systems primarily for the benefit of single occupancy drivers only deepens our addiction to sprawl land use patterns - when we make it easier for people to drive further and further from where they live to where they work, highway expansions subsidize suburban sprawl.

Highway funding is largely financed by gas taxes, which are collected by the 50 states and sent to the Federal government and then distributed back to the states. Some states are "donor" states that receive back less than 100% of what they contribute to the Feds. Other states are "recipient" states that receive more than 100% of what they contribute

The vast majority of federal transportation funds go to highways (maintenance and expansion), eating up $228 billion out of the $286 billion in federal funding for 2004-2009.

When the Feds kick the highway funds back to the states (with some small amounts "ear-marked" for specific projects), large metro regions and state Departments of Transportation get to decide the vast majority of which highway and transportation projects get funding. So while there is almost no local control of amount of gas taxes collected, there is a lot of local control over what types of transportation projects actually get built in metro regions. Regional "metropolitan planning organizations" are comprised of locally elected officials who must approve transportation plans that receive federal funding. There are 385 metropolitan planning organizations across the U.S.

Where I reside, Austin, Texas, our local transportation planning agency, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, recently authorized almost $1.5 BILLION in highway expansions for five highways in Austin. About one-third of this - $540 million - is from debt (in the form of bonds) to be floated on the presumption that toll collections on the new toll lanes will repay the bond debt.

Despite Austin's image as "green," we are investing enormous sums of money into deepening our addiction to cars, oil consumption, and sprawling land uses. Our mayor unveiled an "Austin Climate Protection Plan" this year and a few months later voted for the $1.5 BILLION in highway expansions, with no one in the media picking up on the hypocrisy.

What transportation plans are being considered, funded, and built in your area? New toll roads? Mass transit? Rapid bus? Free or low-cost bike rentals? Extensions of commuter rail lines? What percentage of your metropolitan planning organization's funding is going to highway expansions?

TOD:LOCAL is interested in hearing your stories!

500 miles of personal rapid transit on interstate highways would equal the CO2 reductions from the entire US public transit fleet. We need to start thinking about transportation systems that mimic the car and avoid the disadvantages of light rail and the bus. BRT is failing in Berkeley due to loss of parking spots.

Unsupported claims of vaporware/gadgetbahn !

Show me a dozen PRT systems that have been in operation for a decade or more, along with their cost accounting for operations and maintenance. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke and selling snakeoil.

BTW, 500 miles of PRT are going to equal 229 miles of NYC subways (with over 5 million daily pax) ? Not to mention 106 miles of DC Metro, 3/4 million pax, Chicago, Boston, Philly, etc.



Alan, I agree completely with you but have decided after seeing that PRT website that the issue is psychological rather than rational.
I think that many uhmerikans have a deep seated fear of strangers and "the other" that would have to be overcome to actually get on the communal compartment of a light rail system.
Maybe we should figure out a light rail pod system for the agoraphobics who fear coming in contact with strangers. Something like this PRT system but the pod could be attached to a light rail communal vehicle. It would be individually isolated and could be disinfected and sprayed with new car scent after each use. Or if you are really upscale, you could have your own personal tricked out pod. Definitely put surcharge on their use... Now, I'm sounding as crazy as the PRT people but I promise you, that fear and loathing of the stranger is probably the greatest impediment to light rail.

fear and loathing of the stranger is probably the greatest impediment to light rail

Quite probably true. One of the end results of social isolation endemic to the suburbs.

My response, perhaps inadequate, is to build the systems that people want NOW ! (or rather wanted in 2003 before the oil price climb) and see who wants more after we get Phase I going.

Best Hopes,


The US public transit system according to APTA offsets 6.9m metric tons annually. The NYC subways run on electricity generated from fossil fuels (and some nuclear). They may have a similar amount of passengers but have a lower offset due to GHG emissions. NYC runs a lot of empty trains.

Light rail has a very low acceptance rate in the US, because it is too slow and costs an average of $100m per mile. PRT at 1/10 the cost allows a network that is 10x larger.

ULtra, Vectus have operational systems, Skytran is under development. These systems need engineering and have lower risk than miracle batteries that the PHEV people are struggling to a reach 40 mile range.

I'm not opposed to the NY Subways (I rode them for 10 years) but there is just only one project (2 ave subway) that is on the horizon. NYC can seriously reduce car traffic by an above ground solution not digging. PRT is the only currently viable solution that has a chance in NY city.

Do you really thing they are going to put light rail in NYC? Dream on.

I've run into the same problems in Northern Virginia. In one area, I'd pushed for having car-free zones in a greenfield mass transit district. The Board of Supervisors was in favor, but the developer killed the proposal by making threats to pre-empt the design by starting early, grandfathering the existing wide-open zoning. The result was a very weak Transit Oriented Design in the area closest to the station itself, surrounded by typical suburban development more than 3 blocks away. There are even drive-in banks and fast food establishments!

The grocer and series of shops in in a strip mall 1/4 mile from the transit stop, and the developer said that having small buses circulating between the shopping area and the dense portion of the transit area would qualify as "transit-oriented", regardless of the fact that the little buses would be swamped in the 5pm to 7pm timeframe when people came home from work (by rail?) and needed to pick up dinner or grocery shop.

We have one win here today in the Seattle Metro area, and one ballot measure to vote on tomorrow that has people deeply divided. Essentially, if you want increased public transit (go light rail!), you have to also accept massive funds for increased road building:

The Big Win

Excerpted from the Seattle Times: "The city of Seattle has approved one of the nation's most aggressive attempts to raise the popularity of bicycles.

The 10-year Bicycle Master Plan calls for 118 miles of new bike lanes and 19 miles of trails, as well as lane markings and signs to create awareness of cycling across the city."

The Unhappy Transit Bill

Excerpted from the Seattle P-I:
"Proposition 1, a measure bringing us a massive $47 billion (yes, that's the figure we're sticking with) package of roads and transit projects, is a stinky mess.

It weds roads to transit in an effort to force the hands of voters who, given their druthers, would vote for one or the other. The measure is so divisive that it has pit groups that would ordinarily side with each other on, say, transit issues, on opposing sides, while creating strange bedfellows (the Sierra Club and developer Kemper Freeman?!?) among those who fundamentally disagree on pretty much everything other than their no vote on a measure they say is unconstitutional."

The French Broad River MPO (which pretty much covers the Asheville NC metro area)is in the final phases of drafting a Comprehensive Transportation Plan. It does include substantial material and action items on bicycle and mass transit modes. Lots of good maps I wish I could post.

French Broad River MPO Comprehensive Transportation Plan

Included are creating passenger rail depots in Asheville and Black Mountain. There won't be any point in this happening unless NC DOT & Amtrak extend passenger rail service to WNC, though. Unfortunately, that is pretty much out of our control.

Three pages of recommended street and road widenings, unfortunately, though some of those are integrated with the bicycle route recommendations and are being done to provide bikeways.

Arlington, VA new Master Transportation Plan (expected to be approved this month)


General Policy A.  Integrate Transportation with Land Use 
Organize community development and redevelopment around high quality and high capacity transit

General Policy B.  Support the Design and Operation of Complete Streets 
Design and operate a comprehensive network of Arlington’s local and arterial streets to enable safe access by all user groups icluding pedestrians, bicyclists, transit vehicles and users, and motorists of all ages and abilities, allowing these users to access a full range of daily activities.

General Policy C.  Manage Travel Demand and Transportation Systems  
Influence travel demand generated from new development through County Board approved conditions and actively manage County controlled streets, parking, transit services, and commuter service programs to minimize the growth in single occupant vehicle trips and to promote the use of all other mode of travel

Transportation Options in Arlington

I live in New Hampshire and am opposed to the proposed widening of Interstate 93 which links Manchester, NH and Boston. For the New England states, the Conservation Law Foundation works to stop the development of unnecessary highways. CLF has been able to delay the widening of I-93 on legal grounds: Below is an excerpt from a CLF press release:

"Concord, NH (August 30, 2007) A federal judge today ruled that the N.H. Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) failed to appropriately consider the traffic congestion and air quality impacts of the planned 20-mile, $700 million I-93 widening project. As a result of a lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Judge Paul Barbadoro today ordered the two agencies to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address significant deficiencies in NHDOT's and FHWA's planning and review of the proposed project. In particular, the Court in its ruling agreed with CLF that: The transportation agencies' projections of future traffic demand on the highway were based on outdated population data."
I have compiled a report on Peak Oil using federal government and scientific studies:
This report indicates that the price of oil is about to skyrocket. Therefore, in the future fewer cars will be on the roads and there is no need to widen Interstate highways. Two weeks ago, I emailed this report to all CLF attorneys. One attorney responded that they got the report and are looking at it. As a political scientist who has been teaching in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of New Hampshire since 1981, I'm sure that this report will help. CLF can ask the NHDOT and FHWA to address the federal government reports on Peak Oil, and then in the next lawsuit, the CLF can include those reports for judges to consider. Also, the reports indicate that Peak Oil will soon result in a recession, and therefore fewer people will be commuting to Boston.

The most important report is by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) “Crude Oil: Uncertainty about the Future Oil Supply Makes it Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production” (2007). This study concludes:
“Because development and widespread adoption of technologies to displace oil will take time and effort, an imminent peak and sharp decline in oil production could have severe consequences. The technologies we examined [ethanol, biodiesel, biomass gas-to-liquid, coal gas-to-liquid, and hydrogen] currently supply the equivalent of only about 1% of U.S. annual consumption of petroleum products, and DOE projects that even under optimistic scenarios, these technologies could displace only the equivalent of about 4% of annual projected U.S. consumption by around 2015. If the decline in oil production exceeded the ability of alternative technologies to displace oil, energy consumption would be constricted, and as consumers competed for increasingly scarce oil resources, oil prices would sharply increase. In this respect, the consequences could initially resemble those of past oil supply shocks, which have been associated with significant economic damage. For example, disruptions in oil supply associated with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 and the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 caused unprecedented increases in oil prices and were associated with worldwide recessions. In addition, a number of studies we reviewed indicate that most of the U.S. recessions in the post-World War II era were preceded by oil supply shocks and the associated sudden rise in oil prices. Ultimately, however, the consequences of a peak and permanent decline in oil production could be even more prolonged and severe than those of past oil supply shocks. Because the decline would be neither temporary nor reversible, the effects would continue until alternative transportation technologies to displace oil became available in sufficient quantities at comparable costs. Furthermore, because oil production could decline even more each year following a peak, the amount that would have to be replaced by alternatives could also increase year by year.”

Other U.S., Canadian government, and international government and organization studies that are cited in my report indicate that alternative energies will not be able to replace declining oil production.

Thank you for this. I have been interested in the same line of argument regarding transportation projects around here, which basically amount to "my way is the highway" and few in local government dare challenge this.

What is amazing to me is how patently illegal proposed projects are (using bad population data, incorrect model inputs, saying in the EIR it will be overbuilt but recommending it anyway, etc.), but nobody seems to care, they just want it built.

Even those involved in transportation planning who consider oil depletion a real issue still believe we will substitute our way out of it and continue traffic growth. So your final point is key.

I had an old post on TOD about the situation here:

Your basic premise seems to be the same old mantra of would-be social engineers: "let's gridlock and immiserate our way into conservation." Regardless of geophysical or geopolitical reality, that just seems out of touch with political reality.

Maybe it would fly in Berkeley, CA, or just perhaps Madison, WI. But generally, few voters want to dissipate their lives stuck in traffic, or waiting in the heat, rain, or snow for buses or trains that can't even be bothered to show up half the time, or cycling in 115F heat, or attempting fruitlessly to cycle on streets slick with glare ice.

I'm not even sure the premise is in touch with civil-engineering reality. Since the interstate system was more-or-less completed in the 1970s, most metro areas have added only negligible arterial road capacity. But most have piled on plenty of population, and the proportion of that population that commutes to work has gone way up - due in no small part to what used to be called "women's liberation", which certainly will not be going away.

I therefore regard the underlying assertion that demand is literally infinite, that we could never ever build our way out of congestion, as neither true nor false, but woefully untested. After all, demand has roughly tripled and supply has barely budged.

Now, if you want to convince the wide general public that additional road space will become useless within its design lifetime - which would seem to be 20-40 years, no more than that - then have at it. After all, the perceived likelihood of that happening is generally taken to be zero. And that would be the main disconnect, wouldn't it?

In the meantime, the votes in Seattle are not being counted yet. Maybe the Seattle tactic - piling expense upon expense until voters perhaps blanch at the magnitude of the required tax increases - will turn out to be the most effective way to create the desired gridlock.

I am not sure where you live but you either haven't traveled much in the US over the last 30 years, or are simply ignorant of the US Highway system.

Many of the main arterial interstate highways were built from 1960 (federal law started funding them in 1957) to the late 1970's with the system being largely complete by 1980. Nearly all portions were built as 4 lane divided highways, except in major urban areas where 6 lanes was the norm. Most major metro areas of the US now have the main interstate highways built to 8 to 12 lanes with lessor highways (not designated as "interstates") often 6 to 8 lanes. These lane expansions came mostly from the early 1970's to the present.

Perhaps you should visit the Los Angeles area, then look at a vintage highway map from about 1972 and see how the system has grown in the last 35 years. By lane capacity many cities have doubled or tripled their highway capacity, besides upgrading many state designated highways to "interstate" standards.

This year the Federal Highway Administration will dole out over 40 billion dollors for highway projects that expand or upgrade the system. On top of that states will spend billions more of their money on non federal highways which will have maintenance and expansion upgrades.

So, we haven't expanded the system much? Check your facts.

Mark in St Louis, USA

Maybe California is different. It usually is.

Not too long ago I had to drive (rather than fly) from the upper Midwest to New York City. With the exception of one fifty mile stretch, my old 1980 road atlas would have done me just fine for the entire trip. A fifty mile stretch in a thousand mile route does not constitute a threefold expansion.

Things are only a little different locally, where rather old maps are perfectly fine except if one is actually in a new development or close to one of two new four-lane 'expressways' (that are upgrades of two-lane roads and therefore do not constitute a tripling.) The main (arterial) streets one uses to get around are much the as they "always were". Because they have not expanded much - and not one has tripled, i.e. gone from two lanes to six - bus service that was once scheduled to take 25 minutes must now be scheduled for 60 or 70 minutes. It's called rationing by queue, or, as I said, conservation by gridlock.

Anyway, yes, some small portion of the interstates and turnpikes, mainly in Ohio, has been widened from four lanes to six. The only significant eight lane stretch was a few miles in Chicago. The interstate in Pennsylvania approaching the Delaware River was still much as it was many years ago, relatively twisty and narrow with wholly inadequate on- and off-ramps. With only a short exception, the remainder in Pennsylvania and New Jersey was four lanes and six lanes in the same places as many years ago.

So I am hardly persuaded that the size of the arterial road system has tripled, as would have been needed to keep up with population increase plus a far higher proportion of the population traveling on business and commuting to work. Now, 25 or 30 percent, I could believe. This idea that the system is growing like some sort of uncontrolled cancer just seems utterly preposterous. Basically, despite the occasional widening here and there, it still looks mostly like the same old cheapskate same old, only getting more and more clogged with each passing year, as we pile in ever more and more people while willfully refusing to build much of anything.

You've got a pretty tough uphill battle to fight. One of the things working against you is the economic networking effect. This effect essentially says that within a city or other economic unit which is small enough that the population can compete for any job within the area, the effect of adding extra workers increases the economic output per capita. In other words higher population metropolitan areas have higher standards of living. This comes about because greater specialisation is possible, as people can on average commute across a greater population. Restricting the ability to commute will be heavily resisted.

Now this doesn't say what form the commuting ability must take. But rather that connectedness is an important factor in economic wellbeing.

Good luck. I called Austin home for 10 years and loved the people and the area. What broke my heart was the totaly unrestricted growth and the cars... oh God, how the auto has destroyed much of Austin. Hwy 183 looks like Houston now, and is still jamed. Austin did 6th street and downtown rehab right, but as to controled growth and any master transportation plan that doesn't feed the auto cancer, well Austin gets an F. I love the city and people but it is really a disaster how spread out it all is now. Austin's biggest problem is that it is immersed in auto-intensive Texas. Once gasoline and diesel double to $6 or $7/gallon trips to the Oasis for marg may get fewer and farther between...

It's a shame that we can't use that marvelous lake system for better transportation. I totally agree about the growth problem. I believe the light-rail is starting trial runs on existing lines this upcoming year, but every time I talk to people about it they just complain about the spending of tax-payer money to fund pet projects. Granted, there is also a lot of irritation/anger about the toll roads. In the next few months as more tolls go online, my family in Lago Vista won't be able to get to ABIA in a reasonable amount of time without paying a toll.

P.S. Didn't the Oasis burn down?

Here's a link and a story in local fish wrapper to the usual horror show here in Portland, Maine, where the "Sustainable Portland" plan calls for expansion, long term growth, more global trade, yadda-yadda. Of course, those who wrote the report consider it forward thinking, not wishful thinking or a fig leaf for business-as-usual. No doubt they will express a preference for local business - as long as the local business is cheaper, etc....

And in another local paper, this story "`Duh,' `whoa' factors in data on city's economy" where

Portland has better access to health insurance coverage, more arts and entertainment opportunities, less crime, higher income, less poverty and higher educational attainment. But the city lagged in growth rate over the past five years, according to the report, including income growth and gross product growth,


Professional and business service jobs grew less than 2 percent, compared to about 12 percent growth in the benchmark regions.

The Chamber is concerned that despite Portland's being relatively prosperous, growth is lagging. No doubt they will come up with policies to fix those problems.

Despite the mere 2% growth in Portland area, that small growth - it's much larger immediately outside the city - over past 25 years I've been here has seriously decreased the livability of the area. I can't imagine what a 12% growth rate might be like.

cfm in Gray, ME

I live in Edmonton, Alberta which has a metro area population of 1.1 million or so spread out over a 50km diameter circle with around 725,000 in the City proper and another 130,000 in immediately abutting suburban areas. Currently the City is extending it's single LRT line south for about $600 million or so. They are just about to embark on some major grade separations and upgrades on major internal roads that will come to well over a billion over the next 5 years. They are planning on BRT service to areas not served by LRT and hope to start on another couple of LRT lines in the next decade.

The province is building a freeway all around the city that is planned to be complete by 2015 and will likely cost something on the order of 1.5 billion before it is all over. In addition, Alberta is completing a 4 lane divided highway as part of the CanAMex project. It will extend from the Montana border to the border with BC, west of Grande Prairie. The last few kilometers should be completed within 5 years. The idea is to have a trade corridor from Mexico City to Alaska and this road is a cornerstone.

The province has also commited to twinning a highway from Edmonton to Ft. McMurray and beyond to Ft. Mackay. The railroad serving Ft. McMurray is in disrepair and is due to be shut down by it's operator next month, but for some strange reason the province will not step in to keep it going. Instead they will shell out for 500 km of 4 lane road so that large loads can travel from here, where they are fabricated, to the oilsands plants.

The Alberta government is also seriously considering a high speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary and have even gone so far as to purchase lands for stations in both cities. We are hoping to hear more on this early next year once a study is released.

A variety of oil companies are planning on building upgraders in the NE part of the metro area. The idea is to upgrade bitumen from the oil sands and create synthetic crude and/or refined products. They are talking about 30 billion or so worth of plants over the next 10 years. This means more growth and the need for more transit. Fortunately, we still have a spiderweb of railway rights of way that could be utilized for rail.

Alberta lover

Just think, in 500 years those who ride on these roads by horse and buggy will not only thank us for a comfortable ride, but also at the same time think we were totally nuts.

Richard Wakefield
London, Ont.

No one is ahead of their time, just the rest of humanity is slow to catch on.

Funny I just got back from Austin and posted this to my site:

They're doing a good job turning a nice city into another Houston. Growth forever is not a solution. It's what we call in science and mathematics 'unbounded'. But politicians and business leaders apparently never studied math in school.

Austin (Travis County) just had a special election. No candidates, just a lot of bond issues and constitutional amendments (the Texas constitution is a ridiculous pile of manure, with thousands of silly amendments).

Anywho, some time back around 2000 or so, there was a case that went to the Texas Supreme Court ... it seems that some jurisdiction in the Dallas area had collected a few tens or hundred million dollars in bond money and never got around to building the designated road project. The city argued, and won: they could spend the money on whatever they wished, and didn't need to build the road nor return the money to taxpayers.

Therefore, I always vote against bond issues, no matter how noble the cause. Cure cancer? Sure, just have the lege agree on the project and allocate the money. Once bond money is approved, it just burns holes in the city council's pockets and ends up in the hands of developers (currently polluting the Austin skyline with numerous high rise condos).

And don't let me start about the toll roads...

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

And it's funny (in a sick way) that San Antonio makes Austin look like Portland, or maybe Amsterdam. I can't think of one thing that this ridiculous, wilfully ignorant city is doing that demonstrates, in any meaningful way, the mere recognition that we might, some day, have to do something else besides encourage endless growth, ugly sprawl, and more roads.

Some good news today from Washington, D.C.

Metrorail: D.C. Ridership Surge


... [Metro] Ridership at night, after the evening rush, grew faster than at any other time of day. Metro officials said the 22 percent increase, to 82,318 trips, reflected downtown Washington's commercial revitalization.

Some District stations have benefited from a development surge in recent years, including Gallery Place, adjacent to the Verizon Center, and Union Station and Columbia Heights, both near trendy neighborhoods. Other stations where development has boosted ridership include New York Avenue, Metro Center, Tenleytown, Woodley Park and U Street.

"We're seeing new residential growth and new activities for people to go to after hours," said Nat Bottigheimer, Metro's chief of planning and development. "If you take the train in the evening, you will see a packed train in downtown."

... The survey found that many more people are getting to Metro stations by walking, biking and taking the bus than did five years ago. Their reasons for using Metro are becoming more diverse, Bottigheimer said.

"It used to be dominated by the peak periods and commutes, but now you see people using it for shopping, for entertainment, for accessing Zipcars and Flexcars," he said, referring to two car-sharing programs.

... During the morning rush, more people are walking, taking a bus or biking to stations than did five years ago. Commuters hopping on a Metrobus or other local bus took 52,572 trips during a typical morning rush this past spring, a 26 percent increase from five years ago.

In Alexandria, almost 50 percent of morning rush-hour commuters took the bus to the rail station. In Arlington and the District, close to 70 percent of morning rush-hour riders walked to the train station.

Austin could have Opened a 20 mile Light Rail Line by now

if a 1,004 vote margin (from memory) had gone the other way on November 7, 2000, Austin could have a legitimate claim to being a "Green City". Instead Austin is building a minimally functional diesel commuter rail# line. As it is, I am glad I moved from Austin to New Orleans.

Not Much Hope for Austin,


# AFAIK, Austin and Nashville will be unique in the developed world in having commuter rail and no Urban Rail system to feed into.

Gas is now US$ 8.49 here in The Netherlands.

Sodium Sulfur batteries need too much insulation for cars, but they run trams and buses just fine.
You could build lots and lots of separate grade roads for trams and buses, or just tune the lights so the buses on the half the streets that are reserved for buses will always get a green light, and speed up bus transit times enough to attract riders away from the half the streets that are reserved for cars.
Say, have three levels of car ridership. One, two, and many!
Too easy and sensible to be instituted until after all alternatives have been exhausted.

Overhead wires would be simpler and better for trams and buses, instead of high tech batteries.

We spend our lives thinking about moving people and goods through space... instead of creating places with all the people and goods we need right there.

This is what I call the transportation illusion... and it is self reinforcing. It is one of the most profound structural realities of modernity and the oil age.

Transportation itself is a solution to a problem that doesn't have to exist... to a world of problems that don't have to exist.

Transportation solves the problem of people and goods and institutions (and information!) being distributed across the geography of the planet in ways which require movement to access them... and once we enable transport, we deepen this maldistribution of people and goods and institutions.

But the transportation economy of the future has little transportation, and what transportation it does have would be taxed to reflect its tremendous cost to the planet, and to support the technologies that enable places to be complete with minimum transportation.

In the world of the future everything you need is already there, within a a few square miles, accessible on foot or bike.

In the world of the future we will design places with as much technological sophistication as we now design the cars that enable us to escape the un-diverse and therefore inadequate-to-life places that we live in, our mono-colonies of housing without jobs, without agriculture, without gathering places.

We will create the technology of place instead of the technologies that enable us to escape place.

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where / You're meant to be " sang the Beatles, but we don't really believe that do we? Transportation fosters the illusion that sometimes you are meant to be somewhere else.

Transportation even helps to make that true by discouraging us from making the places where we live complete places for all of human life.

Welcome to the end of the transportation illusion, and the beginning of making places so complete that transportation itself is largely unnecessary.

But I do repeat myself. Yours in post-transportational reality, Miles Hochstein/Oregon7