Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bumper to Bumper

A/K/A Putting all your transportation eggs in one basket...with predictable results:

Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas and Louisiana were loading up their cars and fleeing inland Thursday as Hurricane Rita menaced the Gulf Coast.

But many weren't getting very far.

Houston resident Tim Conklin told CNN that he had been in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 13 hours and had only gotten about 48 miles. He said the drive to Dallas, where his father-in-law lives, usually only takes about four hours.

On Highway 290, the main road between Houston and Austin, people were pushing their cars and minivans to save gas -- and were moving just as fast as the vehicles that were driving. Others were stopped on the side of the highway after breaking down or running out of gas.

I certainly hope these folks safely reach their destinations. However, when the storm season FINALLY ends, I hope the traffic conditions--roughly 4 mph on a major highway--will convince people to begin looking at alternatives to the private car, and integration of other modes of transit into a complete system both within cities and between cities.

If I had the choice of gridlock versus medium to high-speed rail, you can bet I'd take the latter.

And remember, bumper to bumper, while obviously worse today for residents of the Texas coast, is a relatively normal state of affairs during rush hour for most medium to large cities in this country (Baton Rouge, for instance, is notorious for its horrible traffic on a regular basis).

Take the train...

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