October 30, 2014 by John Crapper
October 31, 2012:
NEW YORK—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would restrict car traffic coming into Manhattan to vehicles carrying three or more passengers until Friday in an attempt to cut down on congestion in the city.
Bloomberg, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference to address the impact of massive storm Sandy, said restrictions would be in place from 6 a.m. to midnight for bridges and tunnels excluding the George Washington Bridge.
“I know it’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much,” he said.
If this kind of action can be taken during times of emergency it might be time to consider the same for day to day commuting. It might be time to jump out of the box in our thinking.
Ever notice the number of cars are on the road every morning and afternoon going to and from work with only 1 person in them? It’s a shitload. With gas prices where they are these days it just might be time to reevaluate how we get to work. It might be time to look at things a little differently. In doing this we have to realize that light rail access and a huge expansion of bus service in most metropolitan areas is not going to happen anytime soon. People are pretty much stuck with what’s currently available. That leaves most of us just throwing are hands up in the air and saying to ourselves: “I’ve got no choice! I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and paying the price.”
As Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters I’m proclaiming you can have a choice. All it takes is jumping out of the box and applying a little ass-forward thinking. Our current system of commuting is extremely wasteful and becoming increasingly more inconvenient. It is ass-backward. When looked at in an ass-forward way there is a way to change it. It just takes a little thought and a willingness for commuters to do things a little differently. It won’t even take huge investments in public transportation or mass transit to accomplish.
The new commuting system I envision utilizes fully our existing transportation system. That means we continue to use our cars each morning to drive to and from work. We just put more butts in them. How can we do this?
Here is the basic plan:
In simple terms the system would turn commuters into quasi taxi drivers to and from work.
Commuters would be required to participate in the system to and from work. Participation in the system for all other travel would be on a voluntary basis.
Only certain license plate numbers (say even for even days and odd for odd days) are allowed to commute on any given work day.
Along all roads there are designated stops where people wait for pick up. These stops would be located at every freeway exit/entrance, all major arterials, all park and ride locations, and all city bus routes. Non-driving commuters would be required to transport themselves to one of these designated stops for pick-up. From home that could entail walking, riding a bike, or hitching a ride from a local neighbor.
During the commute every driver would travel on exactly the same roads they usually use on their way to work. Passengers would stay in the vehicle until needing to switch directions. They would then be dropped off at the nearest stop to be picked up again by a car traveling in their new direction.
Drivers, along their route to work, would be required to pick up passengers until the vehicle is filled to capacity. When the driver switches directions passengers not heading in the new direction disembark. If passengers need to leave his vehicle to head in a new direction the driver stops at a designated stop to let the passenger off. The driver picks up passengers heading his new direction anytime his car is not full. This process continues until the driver reaches his destination.
That’s the basic plan. There are many details that would have to be worked out of course. Some that come to mind are the following.
Security: Drivers need to be secure when letting strangers into their vehicles. This could be handled through the issuance of a commuter pass to all individuals using the system. Cars’ license plates would be read by scanners upon entry into pick-up stops. Passengers entering the vehicle would insert their card into a reader which would record the identity of each individual entering each vehicle.
Payment for service: Some people would be using the system who don’t own a car or never drive. It would be unfair to let them have free rides all the time. There would therefore need to be a system whereby drivers would get monetary credit for the passengers they give transport. This could be accomplished by using the same commuter passes used for security purposes. Miles per gallon (MPG) rates would be determined and assigned to each driver’s commuter card based on the vehicle they drive. Upon entering the vehicle a calculation would be determined based on the MPG figure and the number of passengers in the car. Ride rates would be determined by dividing number of passengers in the car by the MPG figure. Likewise, when passengers disembarked they would use their cards to log out of the car to determine distance traveled. The running totals for each driver/passenger would be recorded per trip and accumulated over a monthly/quarterly period. At the end of each period a statement would be sent assessing either a payment into the system for ridership or a reimbursement for passengers transported.
What would be the advantages of such a program?
Lower commuter costs due to maximum use of car pooling.
Less traffic congestion further lowering commuter costs from useless idling in traffic during peak rush hour periods.
The likelihood of shorter commute times due to less congestion.
The ability of commuter passengers to do other tasks other than driving on the way to work such as text messaging, reading, eating a snack or just relaxing.
Reduced carbon emissions from less gas consumption.
Reduced pollution from less gas consumption.
Less reliance on foreign oil.
Improved balance of payments due to less foreign imports of oil.
Maximum use of existing infrastructure.
Reduced pressure for infrastructure expansion to meet increased vehicular traffic demands.
Maximum use of existing modes of transportation.
Reduced individual wear and tear on privately owned vehicles from less travel.
Reduced congestion in downtown metropolitan areas.
In some ways greater commuter convenience (faster commute, more free time in transit to work, lower commuter costs)
What are the disadvantages?
Reduced commuter privacy.
Greater exposure of commuters to weather.
In some ways greater commuter inconvenience (loss of privacy, less commuter flexibility, greater exposure to weather, having to switch vehicles)
- Why Drivers May Get More Commuter Tax Benefits Than Bus Riders – NYTimes.com (underpaidgenius.com)
- Carpool (39/365) (thesimpledollar.com)